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Feds: McDonald’s franchisee fined over child labor violations involving 101 teenagers

Gene J. Puskar/ AP
This June 25, 2019, photo shows the sign outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Pittsburgh.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on Monday said a local franchisee operating 13 McDonalds stores in the Pittsburgh, Pa., area violated child labor laws after investigators found 101 teenagers worked impermissible hours.

Santonastasso Enterprises, owned by John and Kathleen Santonastasso, paid a civil penalty of $57,332 for the violations, DOL said.

The franchisee allowed 14- and 15-year-old employees to work more than three hours per day and after 7 p.m. on school days, when federal law forbids work beyond that time, the DOL said.

Other minors worked later than 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day, more than eight hours on a non-school day or more than 18 hours in a school work week, all in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

At one location, a minor was allowed to operate a deep fryer that did not include a device to lower and raise baskets containing the food, another violation in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In a statement, John and Kathleen Santonastasso said “we take our role as a local employer very seriously and we regret any scheduling issues that may have occurred at our restaurants.”

“Our biggest priority is always the safety and well-being of our employees and we have since instituted a series of new and enhanced processes and procedures to ensure employees are scheduled appropriately,” the owners said in the joint statement.

John DuMont, the district director for DOL’s Wage and Hour Division in Pittsburgh, said that “permitting young workers to work excessive hours can jeopardize their safety, well-being and education.”

“Employers who hire young workers must understand and comply with federal child labor laws or face costly consequences,” DuMont said in a statement.

McDonalds said in a statement to The Hill that while local franchisees make business decisions on their own, they must adhere to state and federal laws.

“We expect them to uphold our values in everything they do,” the statement reads. “McDonald’s and our franchisees do not take lightly the positive impact we can deliver – and therefore the profound responsibility we carry – when someone works at a McDonald’s, particularly as their first job.”

Updated at 3:28 p.m.

Tags child labor violations McDonalds Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Santonastasso Enterprises US Department of Labor
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