Three McDonald’s franchisees were fined more than $212,000 for child labor violations, including one restaurant employing two 10-year-olds, according to the Department of Labor. 

Bauer Foods, which operates 10 stores, employed 24 minors under 16 years old to work longer than permitted. Two 10-year-old children were working, but not paid, and sometimes stayed as late as 2 a.m. They prepared and distributed orders, cleaned, worked at the drive-thru, and operated a register. Also, one of the two 10-year-olds was allowed to operate a deep fryer. NBC News reported that the 10-year-olds were children of a night manager, but that they were not approved to be in that part of the restaurant. 

“Too often, employers fail to follow the child labor laws that protect young workers,” Wage and Hour Division district director Karen Garnett-Civils said in a statement. “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.”

Bauer Food LLC, along with Archways Richwood LLC, and Bell Restaurant Group I LLC—three separate franchises operating 62 restaurants in Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, and Ohio—employed 305 children to work more than legally permitted and had them perform tasks prohibited for young workers. 

Archways Richwood, which oversees 27 units, allowed 242 minors between 14-15 years old to work beyond allowable hours. The franchisee was fined $143,566. Bell Restaurant Group I, a franchisee of 20 locations, employed 39 workers between 14-15 years old that were working outside of allowable hours and for longer than the law permits. The organization was fined $29,267 for child labor violations. The Department of Labor also recovered $14,730 in back wages and damages for 58 workers after Bell Restaurant Group failed to pay workers overtime. 

“We are seeing an increase in federal child labor violations, including allowing minors to operate equipment or handle types of work that endangers them or employs them for more hours or later in the day than federal law allows,” Garnett-Civils said. “An employer who hires young workers must know the rules. An employer, parent or young worker with questions can contact us for help understanding their obligations and rights under the law.”

Tiffianie Boyd, senior vice president and chief people officer for McDonald’s USA, described the news as “unacceptable” and “deeply troubling.” The executive said the violations don’t meet the chain’s high expectations. 

“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 in a statement. 

Fast Food, Operations, Story, McDonald's