McDonald’s franchises fined for violating federal child labor laws

FILE - A McDonald's restaurant in Havertown, Pa., Tuesday, April 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
FILE - A McDonald's restaurant in Havertown, Pa., Tuesday, April 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)(AP)
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 9:01 AM CDT
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WALTON, Ky. (WXIX/Gray News) - Three Kentucky-based McDonald’s franchises are accused of violating multiple child federal labor laws, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday morning.

Louisville-based Bauer Food LLC and Bell Restaurant Group I LLC, as well as Archways Richwood LLC of Walton, Kentucky, were assessed a total of $212,754 in civil penalties for the violations.

The three franchises operate a total of 62 McDonald’s locations across Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland and Ohio.

Investigators from the labor department’s Wage and Hour Division found that together, all three franchises employed 305 children to work more than the legally permitted hours and perform tasks prohibited by law for young workers.

During their investigation, it was discovered that Bauer Food LLC had employed 24 minors under the age of 16 to work more than legally permitted hours, including two 10-year-old children who were employed at a McDonald’s in Louisville.

Investigators discovered the two children were employed but not paid, and were given responsibilities such as preparing and distributing food orders, cleaning the store, working at the drive-thru window and operating a register. Investigators also learned that one of the two children was allowed to operate a deep fryer, a prohibited task for workers under 16 years old.

Bell Restaurant Group I LLC was discovered to have employed 39 workers between the ages of 14 and 15, to work outside of and for more hours than the law permits, according to federal officials. Some of these children worked more than the daily and weekly limits during school days and school weeks, and the employer allowed two of them to work during school hours.

Archways Richwood LLC allowed 242 minors between the ages of 14 and 15 to work beyond the allowable hours, federal officials said in a prepared statement.

The investigation is part of an effort to stop child labor abuses in this region, federal officials said.

“Too often, employers fail to follow the child labor laws that protect young workers,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Karen Garnett-Civils said. “Under no circumstances should there ever be a 10-year-old child working in a fast-food kitchen around hot grills, ovens and deep fryers.”

Most cases with child labor violations involve minors working more and later than the law permits, the division found 688 minors employed illegally in hazardous occupations in fiscal year 2022, the highest annual count since fiscal year 2011.

“One child injured at work is one too many. Child labor laws exist to ensure that when young people work, the job does not jeopardize their health, well-being or education,” Garnett-Civils said.

Among those was a 15-year-old minor injured while using a deep fryer at a McDonald’s in Morristown, Tennessee in June 2022.