Local McDonald’s franchise with 27 locations fined $143K for violating federal child labor laws

Investigators say they found two 10-year-old workers at one McDonald’s location.
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 7:41 AM EDT|Updated: May. 3, 2023 at 9:15 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WALTON, Ky. (WXIX) - A local McDonald’s franchise that operates 27 locations in our region is among three Kentucky franchises violating multiple child federal labor laws, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday morning.

Archways Richwood LLC of Walton, Ky. allowed 242 minors between the ages of 14 and 15 to work beyond the allowable hours, federal officials said in a prepared statement.

“Most worked earlier or later in the day than the law permits and more than three hours on school days,” the release states.

Archways Richwood runs McDonald’s stores in the northern Kentucky communities of Florence, Covington, Crescent Springs, Ridge, Alexandria, Cold Spring, Hebron, Edgewood, Erlanger, Taylor Mill and Crittenden. In Cincinnati, the stores are in located in East Price Hill, Westwood, Green Township, Delhi Township.

Federal authorities assessed Archways Richwood $143,566 in civil money penalties for the violations.

That’s more than half the total civil penalties of $212,754 against the three franchises. The other two are both Louisville-based, Bauer Food LLC and Bell Restaurant Group I LLC.

In all, the three franchises operate a total of 62 McDonald’s locations across Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland and Ohio.

Investigators from the labor department’s Wage and Hour Division found that together, all three franchises employed 305 children to work more than the legally permitted hours and perform tasks prohibited by law for young workers.

Investigators say they also found two 10-year-old workers at a Louisville McDonald’s restaurant.

The investigation is part of an effort to stop child labor abuses in this region, federal officials say.

“Too often, employers fail to follow the child labor laws that protect young workers,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Karen Garnett-Civils said.

“Under no circumstances should there ever be a 10-year-old child working in a fast-food kitchen around hot grills, ovens and deep fryers.”

The division’s investigations found the following:

  • Bauer Food LLC, a Louisville-based operator of 10 McDonald’s locations, employed 24 minors under age 16 to work more than legally permitted hours. These children sometimes worked more hours a day or week than the law permits, whether or not school is in session. Investigators also determined two 10-year-old children were employed – but not paid – and sometimes worked as late as 2 a.m. Below the minimum age for employment, they prepared and distributed food orders, cleaned the store, worked at the drive-thru window and operated a register. The division also learned that one of the two children was allowed to operate a deep fryer, a prohibited task for workers under 16 years old. The division assessed $39,711 in civil money penalties to address the child labor violations.
  • Bell Restaurant Group I LLC is a Louisville-based operator of four McDonald’s locations and part of Brdancat Management Inc., a larger enterprise that includes Jesse Bell I, Jesse Bell V and Bell Restaurant Group II, which operates an additional 20 locations in Maryland, Indiana and Kentucky. The division found the employer allowed 39 workers – ages 14 and 15 – to work outside of and for more hours than the law permits. Some of these children worked more than the daily and weekly limits during school days and school weeks, and the employer allowed two of them to work during school hours. To address the child labor violations, the division assessed the employer $29,267 in civil money penalties. Investigators also found the employer systemically failed to pay workers overtime wages they were due and as a result, the division recovered $14,730 in back wages and liquidated damages for 58 workers.

Federal child labor regulations limit the types of jobs minor-aged employees can perform and the hours they can work. Hours limits for 14- and 15-year-olds include:

  • Work must be performed outside of school hours.
  • No more than 3 hours on a school day – including Fridays – and no more than 8 hours on a non-school day.
  • No more than 18 hours during a school week and no more than 40 hours during a non-school week.
  • No earlier than 7 a.m. and no later than 7 p.m., except between June 1 and Labor Day when the evening hour is extended to 9 p.m.

“We are seeing an increase in federal child labor violations, including allowing minors to operate equipment or handle types of work that endangers them or employs them for more hours or later in the day than federal law allows,” Garnett-Civils said. “An employer who hires young workers must know the rules. An employer, parent or young worker with questions can contact us for help understanding their obligations and rights under the law.”

While most cases with child labor violations involve minors working more and later than the law permits, the division found 688 minors employed illegally in hazardous occupations in fiscal year 2022, the highest annual count since fiscal year 2011.

Among those was a 15-year-old minor injured while using a deep fryer at a McDonald’s in Morristown, Tennessee in June 2022.

“One child injured at work is one too many. Child labor laws exist to ensure that when young people work, the job does not jeopardize their health, well-being or education,” Garnett-Civils said.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please click here to report it and include the headline of the story in your email.

Do you have a photo or video of a breaking news story? Send it to us here with a brief description.