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Fast Food Franchisee Marks Quick Moves to Correct FLSA Child Labor Violations

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that a Wendy’s fast food restaurant franchisee has taken steps to correct Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) child labor violations and ensure future compliance at all the restaurants it operates in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania [DOL News Release, 22-1118-PHI, 06/14/22].

The investigation.

The franchisee in question is operated by Philly LIV Bacon LLC and three other corporations, and are located in Allentown, Easton, Pottstown, and Whitehall. An investigation by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) found that the employer allowed 15 year old workers to manually raise and lower deep fryer baskets. Also, investigators found that 14 and 15 year old workers were permitted to work for more than three hours on a school day, more than eight hours on a non-school day, and more than 18 hours during a school week. In addition, Philly LIV Bacon LLC also failed to maintain proper records.

FLSA child labor laws.

The DOL has a webpage regarding the child provisions of the FLSA for non-agricultural occupations. 29 C.F.R. § 570.35 limits the hours and the times of day that 14 and 15 year olds may work to: (1) outside school hours; (2) no more than three hours on a school day; (3) no more than eight hours on a non-school day; (4) no more than 18 hours during a week when school is in session; (5) no more than 40 hours during a week when school is not in session; (6) between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., except between June 1 and Labor day when the evening hour is extended to 9:00 p.m.

29 C.F.R. §570.34 lists those jobs that 14 and 15 year olds may hold. One of the listed items says that these children may perform only limited cooking duties, which include cooking with deep fryers that are equipped with and utilize a device that automatically lowers the baskets into the hot oil or grease and automatically raised the baskets from the hot oil or grease. DOL Fact Sheet #58 has more information on cooking and baking under the FLSA child labor laws.

Coverage of FLSA child labor laws begins at Payroll Guide ¶18,185.

Penalties for violations.

The WHD assessed the franchisee $15,499 in civil money penalties for the violations, which the employer paid.

Working with the WHD.

Prompted by the investigation’s findings, the employers began working with the division to initiate an enterprise-wide review of the workplace practices at all of their 83 Wendy’s locations in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

Following the review, Philly LIV Bacon LLC and three other corporations have agreed to ensure future compliance with federal child labor laws by doing the following: (1) training supervisors and managers on child labor requirements; (2) providing child labor publications to all current and new workers under age 18; (3) posting information about child labor hours’ limitations in a conspicuous place; (4) placing signage on equipment that 14 and 15 year old workers are prohibited to use; and (5) posting a “STOP” sticker on all equipment the department considers hazardous for use by minors.

“The actions taken by Philly LIV Bacon LLC will help ensure minors they employ gain the benefits of real-life work experience without putting them at risk,” said WHD District Director Alfonso Gristina in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

WHD advice.

“Employers who hire minors must know the regulations that govern this practice,” Gristina started. “As the end of the school year fast approaches, employers should review child labor laws and contact the Wage and Hour Division if they have questions.”

Violations adding up.

From fiscal year 2017-2021, the DOL identified child labor violations in more than 4,000 cases, finding more than 13,000 minor-aged workers employed in violation.

State child labor laws.

State child labor laws may set further restrictions on hours of work, the nature of permissible work to be performed, require specific meal and rest breaks, as well as require employers to obtain a permit to employ a minor. Create-a-Chart provides a number of state child labor law charts under the Wage and Hour folder.

 

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