Endor, Inc., a Western Pennsylvania McDonald’s franchise company owned by Paul and Meghan Sweeney, has been accused of violating child labor laws by the U.S. Department of Labor. According to an investigation by the department, five McDonald’s locations in the greater Pittsburgh area employed 34 children, ages 14 and 15, to work later and longer than permitted by child labor laws.
Those regulations prohibit children from working before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m. between Labor Day and June 1; during school hours; later than 9 p.m. on days between June 1 and Labor Day; more than three hours on a school day and more than 18 hours during a regular school week; and more than eight hours on a non-school day.
The Sweeneys paid $26,894 in civil money penalties to the department.
“Fast food restaurants offer young workers an opportunity to gain valuable work experience, but federal law makes sure their experiences do not come at the expense of their education or well-being,” Wage and Hour Division District Director John DuMont said in a statement. “The Fair Labor Standards Act allows for developmental experiences but restricts the work hours of 14- and 15-year-olds and provides for penalties when employers do not follow the law.”
Child labor law violations have become increasingly common in the quick-service segment as restaurants grapple with staffing shortages. So far in fiscal year 2023, there have been 955 child labor violations cases, compared to 835 in fiscal year 2022 and 747 in fiscal year 2021. The number of minors employed in the violation is nearly 2,000 more than fiscal year 2022.
McDonald’s has navigated several such cases, including in May, when three Louisville, Ky.-area franchisees were ordered to pay over $212,000 in civil penalty fines after a Department of Labor investigation found over 300 minors – including two 10-year-olds – working more than their legally permitted hours.
From 2020 through 2022, McDonald’s operators in North Carolina, Idaho and San Diego were also slapped with child labor fines. Further, in December 2022, a Pittsburgh-area McDonald’s franchisee paid more than $57,000 in civil penalties to resolve child labor violations at 13 restaurants following a federal investigation. And, in March, a 15-year-old McDonald’s employee in Tennessee received hot oil burns while using a deep fryer.
Notably, McDonald’s isn’t the only restaurant chain that has been slapped with child labor fines. In the past year alone, Chick-fil-A, Little Caesars and Chipotle have as well. McDonald’s, Subway and Dunkin’ have the most violations, according to the department.
Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]