A McDonald’s franchisee from Louisville, Ky., has been fined after two 10-year-old children were discovered working at the fast-food joint, unpaid, sometimes until 2 a.m.
According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday, Bauer Food, LLC, which owns and operates 10 McDonald’s franchise locations, employed the two 10-year-olds but did not pay them for their work.
The minors were allegedly made to prepare and distribute food orders, clean the store, work at the drive-thru window and operate a cash register. One of the two 10-year-olds was also permitted to operate a deep fryer, which is prohibited by state law for workers under the age of 16.
The franchisee reportedly hired 22 other minors under 16 to work more than the state’s legally permitted hours.
Bauer Food, LLC was made to pay US$39,711 (nearly CA$54,000) in penalties over child labour violations.
The owner of the offending franchises, Sean Bauer, told CBS News the two 10-year-olds were in the McDonald’s restaurant visiting their parent, who works as a night manager. He said the children were not authorized to be behind the line. He claimed to be unaware of any work-related duties performed by the two 10-year-olds.
Bauer said the current staff members at his franchises will be reminded of policies regarding bringing children to work.
The U.S. Department of Labor also identified two other franchise owners, Archways Richwood LLC and Bell Restaurant Group I LLC, in violation of child labour laws.
Archways Richwood LLC, a Kentucky-based franchise owner of 27 McDonald’s locations, allegedly allowed 242 minors between ages 14 and 15 to work beyond legally permitted hours. The franchisee was fined US$143,566 (about CA$195,100).
Bell Restaurant Group I LLC, the owner of four McDonald’s locations, was discovered with 39 employees aged 14- and 15 years old who were working beyond legal hourly limits. Two minors were allegedly permitted to work during school hours. Bell Restaurant Group I LLC was charged US $29,267 (nearly CA$39,800) in fines.
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Tiffanie Boyd, senior vice president and chief people officer at McDonald’s USA, said the child labour violations are “unacceptable, deeply troubling and run afoul of the high expectations we have for the entire McDonald’s brand.”
“It is not lost on us the significant responsibility we carry to ensure a positive and safe experience for everyone under the Arches. I know how important it is that every restaurant fosters a culture of safety,” Boyd continued in a statement. “As a mother whose teenage son proudly worked at our local McDonald’s, I feel this on a very personal level. We are committed to ensuring our franchisees have the resources they need to foster safe workplaces for all employees and maintain compliance with all labor laws.”
News of the three punished franchisees comes amid debate over American child labour laws.
In March, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed a bill that rolled back state requirements for employers to verify the ages of employees under 16. The bill altogether makes it easier for minors under 16 to find employment.
Iowa currently has a bill in the works that would permit some teenagers to work in meatpacking plants. Another proposed bill in Minnesota would allow some minors to work on construction sites.
Opponents of the aforementioned bills argue they would more easily allow children to be exploited by companies.
Since 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor has seen a 69 per cent increase in the number of children illegally employed.
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