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Popeyes workers strike over alleged child labor violations

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Popeyes restaurant workers in Oakland have gone on strike, claiming illegal child labor practices and workplace harassment. 

Two teenage workers, Johmara Romero (17) and Karla Palma Mendoza (18) filed a complaint with the Labor Commissioner and OSHA in California, accusing Popeyes on International Boulevard of violating child labor laws.

They wrote in the statement: “Our employer has violated almost every law put in place to protect young workers like us.”

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The complaint says they were regularly assigned shifts exceeding their age's legal limit of four hours, often working past 10pm on school nights. 

They claimed to have been asked to work until 11:30pm or for 6.5 hours without required breaks. 

The workers also claimed the managers did not obtain the necessary work permits for underage employees.

Fight for $15, a workers' advocacy group, distributed the workers' statement.

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The group said a 13-year-old staff had worked over 40 hours per week, including late shifts on school nights, despite a state law prohibiting such work on school days.

First for $15 says Popeyes closed the Oakland location after the complaint was filed.

Popeyes representatives said they would investigate the accusations and take appropriate action against the franchisee if the claims proved true.

During the strike, workers protested outside the restaurant with signs denouncing child labor exploitation and demanding justice. 

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They also accused managers of harassment, including sexual harassment, and highlighted issues such as denial of legally required breaks and unpaid overtime.

The employees expressed concerns about their safety following incidents of violence, including a recorded fight between staff and a customer earlier this year. 

A video matching the described incident was shared on Twitter.

It prompted an official statement from Popeyes condemning violence and promising to work with the franchisee to prevent similar incidents.

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