The Labor Department has fined three McDonald’s franchisees a total of $212,000 for employing minors illegally in Kentucky. The franchisees were found to have violated federal child labor regulations, including employing two 10-year-olds who received little or no pay and worked beyond allowable hours.
The franchisee for the Louisville McDonald’s location, Bauer Food LLC, which operates 10 McDonald’s locations, was among those fined by the Labor Department. The agency investigators found that 24 minors under the age of 16 were employed by Bauer Food LLC to work more hours than legally permitted. Among those were two 10-year-old children who sometimes worked as late as 2 a.m. performing tasks such as preparing and distributing food orders, cleaning the store, working at the drive-thru window, and operating a register. The Labor Department stated that one child also operated a deep fryer, which is prohibited for workers under 16.
Franchise owner-operator Sean Bauer disputed the Labor Department’s claims, stating that the two 10-year-olds cited in the agency’s statement were visiting their parent, a night manager, and weren’t employees. He added that any “work” was done at the direction of the parent and in their presence without authorization by franchisee organization management or leadership. However, the Labor Department’s investigation found otherwise.
In addition to Bauer Food LLC, Walton-based Archways Richwood LLC and Louisville-based Bell Restaurant Group I LLC were also fined for allowing minors ages 14 and 15 to work beyond allowable hours. Archway Richwood did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and Brdancat Management Inc., which Bell Restaurant Group is part of, declined to comment.
Federal child labor regulations put strict limits on the types of jobs children can perform and the hours they can work. The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division is actively working to stop child labor abuses in the Southeast, and the Kentucky investigations are part of this ongoing effort.
“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,” said Karen Garnett-Civils, director of the Wage and Hour Division. “Too often, employers fail to follow the child labor laws that protect young workers.”
McDonald’s USA spokeswoman Tiffanie Boyd stated that the reports of child labor violations were “unacceptable, deeply troubling, and run afoul of the high expectations we have for the entire McDonald’s brand.” She added that the company is committed to ensuring its franchisees have the resources they need to foster safe workplaces for all employees and maintain compliance with all labor laws.
In conclusion, the Labor Department’s fines against three McDonald’s franchisees for employing minors illegally highlight the importance of following federal child labor regulations. Employers must be vigilant in ensuring that young workers are not subjected to dangerous and illegal working conditions, and those who violate child labor laws will be held accountable for their actions.