McDonald’s franchisee charged with overworking more than 100 youngsters


A Department of Labor investigation found child labor violations involving more than 100 youths at McDonald’s locations in the greater Pittsburgh area.

McDonald’s franchisee Santonastasso Enterprises violated U.S. labor laws by allowing dozens of 14- and 15-year-olds to work outside of legal hours at 13 restaurants, the Labor Department said Monday. In one case, a minor was allowed to illegally operate a fryer without the proper safety equipment.

Labor investigators say McDonald’s establishments broke the law by allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to work more than three hours a day, and after 7 p.m. on school days, as well as after 9 p.m. summer. The agency also accused the company of illegally employing young people for more than eight hours a day on weekends and more than 18 hours a week during school weeks.

“Allowing young workers to work excessive hours can compromise their safety, well-being and education,” said John DuMont, Labor Department official. “Employers who hire young workers must understand and comply with federal child labor laws or face costly consequences.”

Santonastasso was fined $57,000 for the child labor violations, according to the Labor Department.

In a Facebook video posted in 2021, franchise owners John and Kathleen Santonastasso said they ran a “people first” business that offered a “fun” environment, flexibility and the opportunity to earn money. money for college. On Friday, they said the company now has new procedures to avoid scheduling issues.

“We take our role as a local employer very seriously and regret any scheduling issues that may have arisen at our restaurants,” John and Kathleen Santonastasso said in a statement.

McDonald’s did not respond to a request for comment.

Dozens of youths illegally employed to clean up meat factories, Labor Department says

The investigation follows a series of reports of the illegal use of child laborers this year in other industries, including meatpacking and auto parts manufacturing, amid labor shortages. nationwide. Across the country, employers across the country are hiring more and more young workers. The trend has been particularly noticeable in sectors that have lost many workers during the pandemic, such as restaurants.

Earlier this year, the Labor Department accused Alabama factories that make auto parts for Hyundai and Kia of illegally using child labor after Reuters reported that a Hyundai subsidiary near Montgomery was employing workers. young migrants from the age of 12.

Another federal investigation found in November that one of the nation’s largest food safety sanitation providers was illegally employing dozens of young people at several JBS-owned meatpacking plants in the Midwest. Investigators found 13- and 14-year-olds suffered serious chemical burns while working with cleaning products on shifts at the cemetery.

The Fair Labor Standards Act includes a series of child labor laws enacted to protect the welfare and educational opportunities of minors, and to prevent them from working in hazardous conditions.

Between 2017 and 2021, investigators found violations of child labor laws in more than 4,000 cases, involving more than 13,000 minors, the Labor Department said Friday.

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