Thirteen McDonald’s franchises in the Pittsburgh area are accused of violating child labor laws by allegedly employing 101 14- and 15-year-olds outside authorized working hours, the Labor Department announced Monday.
Santonastasso Enterprises LLC, which is owned and operated by John and Kathleen Santonastasso and based in Bridgeville, Pa., a borough about 10 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, paid a $57,332 fine after division investigators Wages and Hours Department reportedly uncovered the violations at the 13 McDonald’s locations they operate in and around Pittsburgh.
Investigators determined that the franchisee may have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, which states that teenagers cannot work more than three hours per school day; after 7 p.m. any day; no later than 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day, when authorized to work until 9 p.m.; more than 8 hours on a non-school day; or more than 18 hours per week during the school year, among other regulations.
Department officials also reportedly uncovered a professional infraction at one of four Pittsburgh locations where an employee under the age of 16 allegedly used a fryer that was not equipped with a device to automatically lower and raise the baskets.
In a statement provided to NBC News, John and Kathleen Santonastasso said, “We take our role as a local employer very seriously and regret any scheduling issues that may have arisen at our restaurants. Our highest priority is always the safety and well-being of our employees and we have since implemented a series of new and improved processes and procedures to ensure that employee schedules are appropriate.
The franchisee’s Facebook page says the family “have been with the McDonald’s company for over 40 years.”
In a statement, McDonald’s corporate headquarters said franchisees “make local decisions for their businesses” but must comply with state and federal laws.
“McDonald’s and our franchisees do not take lightly the positive impact we can have – and therefore the profound responsibility we bear – when someone works at McDonald’s, especially as their first job,” the statement read. .
A Department of Labor spokesperson said officials are not revealing why investigations are being opened, but pointed to information on the department’s website that indicates many investigations are initiated by confidential complaints and that the division also monitors low-wage industries that typically have high rates. violation rates or employ vulnerable workers.
The spokesperson added that in addition to paying the fine, Santonastasso Enterprises LLC must agree to fully comply with department regulations going forward. The spokesperson added that the department is not disclosing whether it plans to investigate other McDonald’s locations across the country.
The violations follow more than 4,000 child labor violations the Department of Labor has identified, affecting more than 13,000 underage workers from 2017 to 2021.
Last month, the department accused a food sanitation company, Packers Sanitation Services, of allegedly employing at least 50 children to perform nightly cleaning shifts at five slaughterhouses in three states, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. .
Packers Sanitation Services has since resolved the allegations with the Labor Department, according to a federal court filing Tuesday morning, which said the company would review and improve its existing policies and training materials and hire a third-party consultant to conduct “Quarterly Tasks on Child Labour”. compliance training” and monitor corporate compliance for three years. The company will also provide a new child labor provision in its contracts with customers and notify the Department of Labor of the number of employees it has terminated due to its compliance with child labor laws.
A company spokesperson said in a statement that PSSI has “zero tolerance” for such violations.
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