Chipotle has agreed to pay $7.75 million to the state of New Jersey for thousands of alleged child labor violations.

The case arose from a New Jersey Department of Labor audit from 2017-2020 that found roughly 30,600 violations against minors throughout the state. The noncompliance includes alleged failure to limit working hours and provide appropriate meal breaks.

The investigation was triggered by Chipotle’s history of child labor violations in New Jersey and other states. Four locations in New Jersey were cited from 2016-2018, according to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. In January 2020, the fast casual was ordered to pay $1.37 million in fines because of more than 13,000 child labor violations in Massachusetts. This audit occurred from 2015-2019 and found similar issues—16- and 17-year-olds worked later than state law allowed and minors worked more than the nine-hour daily limit and 48-hour weekly limit.

“New Jersey is committed to protecting all workers—especially young workers and others who are vulnerable and may not know their rights in the workplace,” Acting Attorney General Platkin said in a statement.  “This historic settlement is just one result of the investments we have made throughout the Murphy Administration to proactively enforce our worker protection laws, and it should serve as a message to every employer that if you exploit your workers, you will be held accountable.”

In addition to the multi-million-dollar penalty, Chipotle will implement a compliance plan for its 85 New Jersey restaurants, such as self-audits, hiring a compliance official, and mandatory training for all employees. 

Laurie Schalow, Chipotle’s chief corporate affairs officer, said the chain has implemented an enhanced labor scheduling program in its restaurants to create a “more efficient, consistent, and compliant environment.”

“We believe that in hiring workers beginning at age 16, we can provide younger employees with valuable experiences and an opportunity for advancement,” she said in a statement. 

All penalties received go to the state’s Child Labor Law Enforcement Trust Fund.

Chipotle has been hit with multiple, widespread labor violations in recent years. In March 2021, the company was ordered to pay $15 million in wages after misclassifying apprentices as salaried employees and exempting them from overtime pay. The payout impacted nearly 5,000 employees. Then in August, Chipotle agreed to pay $20 million to about 13,000 New York City workers after allegedly violating work scheduling and sick leave policies, among other misdeeds. 

Fast Casual, Legal, Story, Chipotle