McDonald’s Owner Violated Laws Protecting Teen Workers – Labor Dept.

  • Federal investigators found that 13 McDonald’s restaurants in Pennsylvania were in violation of child labor laws.
  • The franchisee has been fined $57,332 and said it is taking steps to ensure that employees are scheduled properly.
  • This probe demonstrates the difficulties of relying upon teen workers. 

A McDonald’s franchisee in Pennsylvania has been fined nearly $60,000 a federal probe It was found that the fast food operator had committed child labor violations in relation to 101 minors at 13 McDonald’s stores.

Santonastasso Enterprises LLC was accused of assigning shifts that were not in compliance with the Franchise Agreement to 14-year-old and 15 year-old workers. Fair Labor Standards Act.  According to the US Department of Labor shift violations include teens working:

  • No more than 3 hours per school day and after 7:15 p.m. 
  • On days between June 1st and Labor Day, they can legally work until 9 pm.
  • You cannot work for more than 8 hours on non-school days and 18 hours per week during regular school weeks.

The Labor Department announcedThe fine was finalized Wednesday. The fine was first reportedNPR 

John DuMont, director at the Wage and Hour District of the Labor Department in Pittsburgh, stated that allowing young workers to work too many hours could pose a risk to their safety, well-being and education. Employers who hire young workers should understand and comply federal child labor laws. They could be subject to costly penalties.

Insider has received this statement from John Santonastasso and Kathleen Santonastasso. 

“We take our role as a local employer very seriously and we regret any scheduling issues that may have occurred at our restaurants,” they jointly stated. “Our top priority is always safety and well-being for our employees. We have since established a series new and improved processes and procedures to ensure that employees are scheduled in a timely manner.”

The probe underscores a long-standing conundrum for the fast-food industry, which has relied for decades on teenagers – with limited work availability – to flip burgers. But, teens have been hard to hire in recent years – a shortage exacerbated by an overall drop in foodservice workers since the pandemic.

Friday BLS data showed that restaurants remained 400,000 jobs short in November compared to February 2020.  

McDonald’s Burger KingRestaurant operators have advertised for work to teenagers as young as 14. A McDonald’s in Medford, Oregon posted a sign outside its store in September last year, stating that it was looking for 14- and 15-year old workers during the peak of restaurant hiring challenges.

Heather Coleman, an Oregon franchisee, said last year that young workers are “a curse in disguise” as they have the drive and understanding of new technologies restaurants are using. 

Some chains, such as the Pennsylvania McDonald’s owner, have been accused by federal authorities of violating rules protecting teen workers.

Insider was sent a statement by McDonald’s USA stating that franchisees are responsible for making local decisions regarding their businesses, including hiring. McDonald’s USA stated that it expects operators “to uphold our values.”

“McDonald’s and our franchisees do not take lightly the outsized impact we can deliver – and therefore the profound obligation we carry – when someone works at a McDonald’s, particularly as their first job.” 

In January 2020, Chipotle paid Nearly $2 million was spent to settle a Massachusetts case in 2016 where the fast-casual chain was accused, among other things, of child labor and wage violations. 

Employment of minors is regulated by laws vary by state

The Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA)There are different age groups that have different rules. Teenagers between 14-15 years old can work in restaurants, fast-service businesses, and other places during non-school hours. This includes up to three hours on schooldays and up 18 hours on weekdays. They can only work 40 hours during non-school week. After age 16, the FLSA doesn’t define hours.

Mary Meisenzahl contributed to the report.

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