WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Santonastasso Enterprises violated the labor law by letting children aged 14 and 15 work outside legal hours at 13 McDonald’s franchises.
- The employed youths reportedly worked over 18 hours a week during school weeks and over eight hours a day on weekends.
- The franchisee has been fined $57,000 for child labor violations.
Over 100 youths were overworked at McDonald’s locations in the greater Pittsburgh area, the Department of Labor said on Monday.
According to an investigation by the Labor Department, Santonastasso Enterprises violated the labor law by letting children aged 14 and 15 work outside legal hours at 13 McDonald’s franchises. The department cited one case that involved a minor operating a fryer illegally and without the proper safety equipment.
Children aged 14 and 15 worked at the McDonald’s locations over three hours a day, after 7 p.m. on school days, and later than 9 p.m. during the summer, Labor investigators said. According to the department, the company also illegally employed youths for over 18 hours a week during school weeks and over eight hours a day on weekends.
John DuMont of the Labor Department stated, “Permitting young workers to work excessive hours can jeopardize their safety, well-being, and education. Employers who hire young workers must understand and comply with federal child labor laws or face costly consequences.”
The franchisee has been charged with a $57,000 fine for child labor violations.
In 2021, franchise operators John and Kathleen Santonastasso described themselves as a “people first” company in a Facebook video. They said that they offered a “fun,” flexible environment and an opportunity to earn money for college.
On Friday, they said that they are putting up new procedures to avoid scheduling issues.
The Santonastassos stated, “We take our role as a local employer very seriously and we regret any scheduling issues that may have occurred at our restaurants.”
The department investigated a series of reports of child labor violations in other industries such as auto-parts manufacturing and meatpacking. The nationwide labor shortage pushed employers to hire more and more young workers, particularly in sectors that lost several employees during the pandemic.
Hyundai and Kia were also accused of employing migrant youths as young as 12 in their Alabama plants. In October, Hyundai vowed to end its dependence on third-party labor suppliers.
In November, a federal investigation revealed that several JBS-owned meatpacking plants in the Midwest illegally employed dozens of youths. Children aged 13 and 14 worked on graveyard shifts and suffered severe chemical burns while handling cleaning products.
Minors are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which includes several child labor laws aimed to shield them from working under dangerous conditions.
On Friday, the Labor Department said that investigators found child labor law violations involving over 13,000 minors in over 4,000 cases between 2017 and 2021.