Chipotle Mexican Grill agreed to pay $322,400 to the Washington, D.C. attorney general’s office in the settlement of a child labor lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed against the California-based burrito chain over hundreds of child labor allegations, including failing to abide by the legal limits placed in the number of hours minor employees may work.
Besides paying the settlement fee, Chipotle is required to implement a new, “comprehensive training and workplace compliance plan” to ensure that future child labor violations don’t occur again.
“We applaud young people who take the initiative to work in addition to going to school, but the law limits the hours they can work to ensure they are healthy, well-rested, and able to fulfill their responsibilities as students and to their families,” D.C. attorney general Brian L. Schwalb said in a statement. “Our investigation examined whether Chipotle violated laws intended to protect our children, and today’s outcome continues the Office of the Attorney General’s proven track record of enforcing DC’s labor protections to the fullest extent of the law.”
Chipotle, for its part, has defended its labor policies, but stated that in compliance with the settlement, has implemented “an enhanced labor scheduling program” across all of its restaurants to address any issues with labor law violations.
“We are committed to ensuring that our restaurants are in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations and we believe that in hiring workers beginning at age 16, we can provide younger employees with valuable experiences and an opportunity for advancement,” a spokesperson for Chipotle said in an emailed statement.
This is not the first time that Chipotle has been caught violating child labor laws. Last September, the company had to pay $7.75 million in child labor law violations to the state of New Jersey for similar issues and was the result of a 2020 audit into Chipotle’s labor policies that found more than 30,000 violations including instances of minors working past the 40-hour work week. In 2020, Chipotle reached a similar child labor settlement with the state of Massachusetts, paying $2 million in a settlement in that case. Other restaurant companies, including McDonald’s, have faced similar legal and ethical conundrums with hiring underaged employees.