A McDonald’s franchise operator has violated child labor laws, according to an investigation by the Department of Labor.
Santonastasso Enterprises, which operates McDonald’s locations in the Pittsburgh area, allowed 14- and 15-year-olds to work more than three hours after 7 pm on school days, after 9 pm over the summer and above the permissible number of hours during the school week and on non-school days, according to the Labor Department.
In one location, a worker under the age of 16 was allowed to operate a deep fryer that did not have a device used to automatically lift and lower baskets.
Overall, 101 minors at 13 locations run by the franchisee were working in violation of child labor laws, the Labor Department said Monday. The franchise operator paid a penalty of about $57,000 to resolve the violations, according to the Labor Department.
“We take our role as a local employer very seriously and we regret any scheduling issues that may have occurred at our restaurants,” John and Kathleen Santonastasso, owners of Santonastasso Enterprises, said in a statement provided by McDonald’s.
“Our biggest priority is always the safety and well-being of our employees and we have since instituted a series of new and enhanced processes and procedures to ensure employees are scheduled appropriately,” they said.
About 93% of McDonald’s locations are run by franchise operators. The franchisees, not the parent company, are responsible for employment at their restaurants.
“Permitting young workers to work excessive hours can jeopardize their safety, well-being and education,” said John Dumont, wage and hour district director in Pittsburgh, in a statement on the investigation. Employers who hire young workers must understand and comply with federal child labor laws or face costly consequences.