A Labor Department investigation of McDonald’s franchises in Kentucky found that two 10-year-olds were among 300 children who worked at the restaurants illegally.
The investigation agency said the 10-year-old children worked as late as 2:00 a.m., receiving little or no pay.
“Below the minimum age for employment, they prepared and distributed food orders, cleaned the store, worked at the drive-thru window, and operated a register,” according to the Labor Department.
Reportedly, one child operated a deep fryer, a task prohibited for workers under the age of 16.
The Kentucky investigations are part of an effort by the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division to stop child labor abuses in the Southeast.
Division Director Karen Garnett-Civils released the following statement:
Too often, employers fail to follow the child labor laws that protect young workers.
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.
Franchise owner-operator Sean Bauer said the two 10-year-olds cited by the Labor Department were not employees, they were visiting their parent who is a night manager.
The franchisee for the Louisville store was fined, along with two other McDonald’s franchises, $212,000 total by the department.
Bauer said they have since reiterated the child visitation policy to employees, and he released the following statement on Wednesday (May 3):
Any ‘work’ was done at the direction of… and in the presence of… the parent without authorization by franchisee organization management or leadership.
The investigation agency found that Louisville’s Bauer Food LLC, which operates 10 McDonald’s locations, employed 24 minors, all under the age of 16, to work more hours than legally permitted.
Walton-based Archways Richwood LLC and Louisville-based Bell Restaurant Group LLC were also found to have allowed minors ages 14 and 15 to work beyond allowable hours.
Both management groups declined to comment upon request.
McDonald’s USA spokesperson Tiffanie Boyd said:
These reports are unacceptable, deeply troubling, and run afoul of the high expectations we have for the entire McDonald’s brand.
We are committed to ensuring our franchisees have the resources they need to foster safe workplaces for all employees and maintain compliance with all labor laws.
Source: The Grio