Federal regulators have fined three McDonald’s franchisees over $200,000 for illegally employing minors.
Investigators found that 305 minors, including two unpaid 10-year-olds, worked beyond legally permitted hours or performed tasks illegal for young workers.
The franchisees operated in 62 locations across Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and Ohio.
45 of the 62 branches were in Kentucky.
One location in Louisville, operated by Bauer Food LLC, was found to have two 10-year-olds working unpaid as late as 2am.
The franchisee was also found to have employed 24 children under 16 to work more than legally permitted hours, resulting in $39,711 in penalties.
Another franchisee, Archways Richwood LLC, based in Walton, Kentucky, was found to have allowed 242 children aged 14 and 15 to work more than the allowable hours.
The children worked more than three hours on school days and earlier or later in the day than the law allows, amounting to an estimated $143,566 in penalties.
Bell Restaurant Group I LLC, also in Louisville, was found to have allowed 39 workers aged 14 and 15 to work outside allowable hours, amounting to an estimated $29,267 in penalties.
The news of McDonald’s franchisees employing minors illegally has raised concerns about child labor laws, particularly in light of recent bills proposed by Republican lawmakers that would make it easier for teenagers to work longer hours and more jobs.
The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division district director in Louisville, Karen Garnett-Civils, said employers must follow child labor laws to protect young workers.
Need Career Advice? Get employment skills advice at all levels of your career
She added: “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 found that 688 minors were employed illegally in hazardous positions in the fiscal year 2022, the highest annual count since 2011.
McDonald’s USA’s senior vice president and CPO, Tiffanie Boyd, said the reports were “unacceptable, deeply troubling, and run afoul of the high expectations we have for the entire McDonald’s brand.”
She added that the company is responsible for ensuring a positive and safe experience for everyone under the Arches.