- Wendy's has reached an agreement with Massachusetts regulators to pay $400,000 to settle allegations that the nationwide fast food restaurant violated state child labor laws at its 46 corporate-owned locations across the state.
- The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office said in a Feb. 18 statement that it began investigating the nationwide fast food restaurant after it received a complaint alleging that teenage employees were working too late into the evening and too many hours a day. Records provided by Wendy's confirmed the restaurant had allowed 16- and 17-year old employees to work too late and beyond the nine-hour daily limit, the statement said. As a result of the investigation, the employer made several changes, including offering "significant training efforts," modifying its scheduling system to flag scheduling issues for minors, and issuing all minor employees a red visor to indicate to managers that they are under 18. The company also implemented a national child labor audit and compliance program.
- In a statement emailed to HR Dive, Wendy's said, "We are committed to being a responsible employer, with the goal that all employees have a rewarding experience as valued members of our team. As reflected in our interactions with the Massachusetts' Attorney General's Office, we take this matter very seriously and appreciated their input and partnership throughout the process."
Several of the nation's biggest restaurant chains have been charged with violating Massachusetts' child labor laws. In August 2019, the state attorney general's office announced that it fined Qdoba $409,400 for child labor citations at 22 locations; just last month, Chipotle settled for $1.37 million over child labor law claims in addition to other state wage and hour violations across more than 50 corporate-owned Chipotle locations.
Under Massachusetts law, children under 18 may not work more than nine hours in a day or more than 48 hours in a week, according to the news release. Children ages 14 and 15 are not allowed to work later than 7 p.m. and 16- and 17-year-olds may not work later than 10 p.m. on a night preceding a school day or later than midnight preceding a non-school day. Employers are also required to have work permits on file for all workers under the age of 18.
Federal regulations also have restrictions on child labor. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), youths 14 and 15 years of age may work in non-hazardous restaurant or fast-food establishment jobs as long as they work no more than three hours on a school day, 18 hours in a school week, eight hours on a non-school day or 40 hours in a non-school week. Those 16 and 17 years of age may perform any non-hazardous job for unlimited hours, according to DOL.