- A Tampa, Florida, Chick-fil-A franchisee will pay more than $12,000 in penalties after investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that it violated the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the agency announced Tuesday.
- DOL said the franchisee permitted workers ages 14 and 15 years old to work past 7 p.m. or more than three hours during a school day between Labor Day and June 1, practices that violate federal child labor laws.
- “Employers must familiarize themselves with the working conditions that come with hiring minor employees,” Nicolas Ratmiroff, director of WHD’s Tampa District Office, said in a statement. “While gaining meaningful work experience is a good thing, it should not interfere with a child’s educational opportunities.”
The FLSA permits children ages 14 and 15 years old to work outside school hours in certain jobs and conditions no more than three hours on a school day or 18 hours in a school week, according to DOL. The law also permits such children to work between the hours of 7 a.m and 7 p.m., and nighttime hours are extended to 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day.
WHD has signaled in recent weeks that it will more aggressively enforce child labor laws. On July 29, the agency said it had seen an increase in child labor violations and would expand its outreach activity and investigations. It also published a webpage offering best practices for employers on the subject.
That approach is reflected in DOL’s recent enforcement activity. In April, WHD assessed a group of Little Caesars franchises in Tennessee more than $161,000 in civil penalties after investigators found that the employers had 15-year-old employees perform prohibited work and violated scheduling rules for these employees. And in 2021, a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant paid more than $2,000 in penalties over allegations that it violated child labor laws.
“Employers who choose to hire young workers have a legal responsibility to know and abide by the federal laws that govern their employment,” Jessica Looman, Principal Deputy Administrator of WHD, said in the July 29 announcement. “These obligations include eliminating all exposures to hazardous occupations and prohibited equipment, and preventing young workers from suffering serious injuries or worse.”
At the same, a tight talent market has led some state governments to consider loosening labor laws for certain teenage workers. New Jersey, for example, passed a law extending the number of hours minors may work during the summer months.