- Chipotle agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle over 13,000 child labor violations cited in their Massachusetts restaurants.
- An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office in Massachusetts revealed that Chipotle employees under the age of 18 were working past midnight and for more than 48 hours a week.
- Teens told investigators that the long work hours prevented them from keeping up with their school work.
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After an investigation into Chipotle restaurants in Massachusetts found over 13,000 child labor abuses and other state wage and hour law violations, the national restaurant chain faces millions in fines.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said she hopes the citations and financial remuneration will warn other fast food restaurant chains that they cannot “put young people at risk.”
“Chipotle is a major national restaurant chain that employs thousands of young people across the country and it has a duty to ensure minors are safe working in its restaurants,” Attorney General Healey said in a statement. “We hope these citations send a message to other fast-food chains and restaurants that they cannot violate our child labor laws and put young people at risk.”
The news comes in the midst of various efforts by Chipotle to make a comeback after a foodborne illness outbreak sickened 647 customers, causing the company to go in a downward spiral.
According to a press release, however, the investigation began well-before the food scandal. In 2016, a parent filed a complaint that their child worked at a Massachusetts Chipotle restaurant well past midnight, prompting the attorney general’s investigation.
Massachusetts child labor laws limit employees under the age of 18 to working only 9-hour days and 48-hour weeks and require employers to have work permits on file for all workers under 18 years of age. It also mandates that 14 and 15-year-old children cannot work after 7 p.m. Meanwhile, employees aged 16 or 17 are prohibited from working later than 10 p.m. on school nights, or later than midnight on the weekends.
A review of Chipotle’s records found that employees under 18 “routinely worked in violation of the child labor laws,” including minors illegally working without valid work permits, too late in the evening, and longer than legal limits. Teens told investigators that the long work hours prevented them from keeping up with their school work.
The investigation also discovered that the Chipotle corporate did not notify employees of their earned sick time and failed to provide complete timekeeping records — some locations even failed to pay workers within six days of their completed pay period.
At the end of its investigation, the attorney general’s office issued four citations against the corporation for “violating the child labor and earned sick time laws, failing to make timely payment of wages, and records violations,” the press release read.
The Mexican restaurant agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle the citations and an additional half-million in penalties, totaling nearly $2 million in fines. According to Chipotle’s chief corporate reputation officer, Laurie Schalow, the corporation has also agreed to donate $500,000 to go towards education about child labor as well as training and development programs for young workers.
“We are committed to ensuring that our restaurants are in full compliance with all laws and regulations and we believe that in hiring workers beginning at age 16, we can provide younger employees with valuable experiences and provide a compelling work environment,” Schalow told Insider.
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