McDonald's Franchise Owners Violated Child Labor Laws

14- and 15-year-olds were working too many hours, and too late at night
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2022 3:11 PM CST
McDonald's Franchise Owners Violated Child Labor Laws
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / Photology1971)

That 14- and 15-year-olds were working at McDonald's locations in and around Pittsburgh was fine; the hours they were working weren't. McDonald's franchisee Santonastasso Enterprises, owned by John and Kathleen Santonastasso, has been hit with a $57,332 civil penalty in connection with child labor violations involving 101 minors, reports CBS News. A press release from the US Department of Labor says the minors in question were found to have worked more than 3 hours per day and after 7pm on school days, later than 9pm between June 1 and Labor Day, more than 8 hours on a non-school day, and more than 18 hours a week during a regular school week. All are violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The release specified another violation in which a minor under age 16 operated a deep fryer that lacked a device that would automatically lower and raise the baskets. "Permitting young workers to work excessive hours can jeopardize their safety, well-being, and education," said the DOL's Pittsburgh Wage and Hour District Director, John DuMont. The Santonastassos said in a statement that they "take our role as a local employer very seriously and we regret any scheduling issues that may have occurred at our restaurants." They said new scheduling processes had been implemented. It wasn't the only child labor law story to make headlines this week.

The AP reports investigators determined at least 50 minors were cleaning and sterilizing dangerous equipment during overnight shifts at five slaughterhouses serviced by Packers Sanitation Services Inc (PSSI). A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Wisconsin company to comply with child labor laws. Labor Department investigators found children as young as 13 working at the meatpacking plants in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Arkansas. One of the biggest cleaners of food processing plants, PSSI has 17,000 employees that service more than 700 locations across the country.

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The company says it "has a zero-tolerance policy against employing anyone under the age of 18" and does as the government advises in terms of verifying the age and immigration status of its employees but will add extra steps to that process. Investigators stated in court documents that some teen employees of PSSI told them "everyone there knew" they weren't 18; investigators cited one case where a search on the Social Security number being used by an employee revealed they were 129 years old. (More child labor laws stories.)

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