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Burger King Franchisee Fined $50k for Child Labor Violations – Are You Next?

A Burger King franchisee was fined $50,000 for multiple violations of the Massachusetts Child Labor Laws.  Like many other states, Massachusetts prohibits minors from working in certain jobs, sets limits on nighttime work, and requires adult supervision at night.  The Massachusetts Attorney General alleged violations of several of these provisions by the Burger King franchisee.

Companies that employ workers under age 18 must pay careful attention to the state and federal laws regulating youth employment.  In a restaurant context, for example, federal law prohibits employers from assigning 14- or 15-year-old employees to cook with certain kinds of equipment or to bake at all.  State laws may be even more restrictive.

Federal law creates different rules based on the age of the employee.  With only limited exceptions, employees must be at least 14 years old.  Federal law allows employees age 16 or older to work in any occupation for any hours, subject only to restrictions on “hazardous” employment for those under age 18.  Employees who are 14 or 15 may work, subject to detailed restrictions on hours and job tasks.  Many of the rules are eased for agricultural employment or for work in a family business.

Child labor law violations are serious business, and many employers commit them unintentionally.  If you employ any workers under age 18, you should consider an HR Audit to confirm your practices are compliant and to find and fix violations before you are audited by a government agency.

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with state and federal employment laws, including child labor laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.