McDonald’s franchise employed 10-year-olds without pay, Labor Department says

Investigators discovered that two 10 year olds worked as late as 2 a.m.

Three McDonald’s franchise operators are facing more than $212,000 in fines after Labor Department investigators discovered that hundreds of children – some as young as 10 years old – were working illegally. 

The three franchisees in question – Bauer Food LLC, Archways Richwood LLC and Bell Restaurant Group I LLC – currently operate 62 McDonald's locations across Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland and Ohio. 

During an investigation, officials with the department’s Wage and Hour Division discovered that more than 300 children were working longer hours than legally permitted and performing tasks that are "prohibited by law for young workers," the Labor Department announced Tuesday. 

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Bauer Food LLC, a Louisville, Kentucky,-based operator of 10 McDonald’s locations, which is facing a nearly $40,000 fine, hired two dozen children under the age of 16 to work more hours than allowed by law. This includes two 10-year-olds who worked at a Louisville McDonald’s, sometimes until 2 a.m., and were not paid. 

The kids prepared and distributed food orders, cleaned the store, worked at the drive-thru window and operated a register, according to the Labor Department. One of them also operated a deep fryer, which is prohibited for workers under 16. 

Bauer Food LLC claimed the 10-year-olds were children of a night manager and were visiting their parent at work. The operator further claimed that any work that was done was not authorized by franchisee organization management or leadership. 

McDonald's

Signage is displayed outside a McDonald's Corp. fast food restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, on Jan. 14, 2019. (Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Archways Richwood LLC – which operates 27 McDonald’s locations – hired 242 minors between the ages 14 and 15 that worked beyond the allowable hours, the labor department said. That franchisee is facing $143,566 in civil money penalties for their child labor violations.

Meanwhile, Bell Restaurant Group I LLC, which is facing $29,267 in civil money penalties, operates four McDonald’s locations and is part of Brdancat Management Inc which operates an additional 20 locations throughout Maryland, Indiana and Kentucky.  

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Investigators say Bell Restaurant Group I LLC also allowed 39 workers – ages 14 and 15 – to work more hours than legally permitted. The employer allowed them to work during school hours, according to the Labor Department. 

The operator also failed to pay overtime wages for 58 workers. As a result, investigators recovered $14,730 in back wages and liquidated damages. 

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McDonald’s USA Chief People Officer Tiffanie Boyd told FOX Business that these reports are "unacceptable, deeply troubling and run afoul of the high expectations we have for the entire McDonald’s brand." 

"It is not lost on us the significant responsibility we carry to ensure a positive and safe experience for everyone under the Arches," Boyd said. "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."

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The Labor Department said that federal child labor regulations limit the types of jobs and hours minor-aged employees can work. For instance, children who are 14 and 15 years old cannot work more than three hours on a school day and no more than eight hours on a non-school day. They are also prohibited from working during school hours. 

They cannot work earlier than 7 a.m. and cannot work later than 7 p.m. except between June 1 and Labor Day. During the summer months, the time is extended to 9 p.m.