Violations of federal limits on teens’ hours are surging. / Photo by Jonathan Maze
Federal authorities are fining 11 Crumbl Cookies franchisees nearly $58,000 for allegedly violating child labor laws.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor found the operators had allowed teens to work longer hours than regulations permit, according to an announcement Wednesday from the agency. In other instances, the workers were allowed to perform duties that are prohibited by child safety rules, such as using certain types of equipment.
The alleged violations involved 46 youngsters in total, some as young as 14, DOL said. The teens worked in units across six states, from California to New Hampshire. The chain consists of about 600 cookie shops in 47 states.
The penalties ranged on a per-franchisee basis from $1,468 to $15,417.
Crumbl Cookies apologized in a statement to the employees who were affected. “We were deeply disappointed to learn that a small number of our franchised locations were found to be in violation of these laws,” the statement read. “We are actively working to understand what has occurred at these specific store locations and will take appropriate action to ensure that all of our franchisees are fully compliant with the law.”
The sanctions were among a spate of fines levied at restaurants in recent days for alleged violations of child-labor laws.
DOL said Wednesday that Sawyer’s Ice Cream, a New Hampshire chain of ice-cream-and-fried-seafood restaurants, had been fined $6,160 for allowing five 14-year-olds to work more hours than federal law permits and permitting one to use a meat slicer, a device seen as hazardous.
On Monday, a five-unit Rita’s Italian Ice franchisee, Ice Custard Hialeah, was assessed more than $15,000 in civil penalties for allowing 21 employees aged 14 or 15 to work more than three hours on a school day, eight hours on a day they’re off from school or 18 hours in total on a school week. Youngsters were also permitted to work beyond the cut-off times at night for persons of their age.
Also on Monday, DOL announced that a Chick-fil-A operator in Hendersonville, N.C., called Good Name 22:1 has been charged nearly $7,000 in penalties for allowing workers under age 18 to work with a trash compactor, which is regarded as a dangerous piece of equipment.
The franchisee was also directed to pay $235 in back pay to workers who were given meal vouchers in lieu of wages to direct traffic into the store. DOL did not say if those employees were adult or minors.
Across all industries, violations of federal child-labor laws have exceeded last year’s tally by 37%, with 3,800 youngsters subjected to conditions that violate federal regulations, according to DOL.
“It is the responsibility of every employer who hires minor workers to understand child labor laws, and comply with them or potentially face costly consequences,” Betty Campbell, DOL’s Wage and Hour Division regional administrator for Dallas, said in a statement.
Under federal law, workers aged 14 or 15 are forbidden to work more than eight hours per day or 40 hours per week. Their hours have to fall between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during the school year, with quitting time extended to 9 p.m. during the summer break.
Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.