McDonald's franchisee fined $57K after investigation over child labor violations

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A McDonald’s franchisee in the Pittsburgh area was ordered to pay a hefty fine for alleged child labor violations at over a dozen locations, the Department of Labor (DOL) said Monday.

The $57,300 fine stemmed from an investigation the DOL said found Santonastasso Enterprises LLC violated the Fair Labor Standards Act with respect to rules on hours minors are legally permitted to work. 

One violation by the McDonald's franchisee allegedly involved a worker younger than 16 being "allowed to operate a deep fryer, which was not equipped with a device to automatically lower and raise the baskets," according to the DOL.

A McDonald’s restaurant in Arlington, Va., Jan. 27, 2022. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts / Reuters Photos)

The department identified John and Kathleen Santonastasso as the owners of the limited liability company that operates the McDonald’s locations it investigated and penalized with the fine.

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On days school was in session, Santonastasso Enterprises LLC allegedly let 14- and 15-year-olds clock more than three hours and work beyond the law's 7 p.m. cut-off time, according to the DOL. Some of its teen employees purportedly were on shift over eight hours on non-school days. The franchisee is also accused of permitting minors to work beyond the 18 hours legally permitted during school weeks or past 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day.

This June 25, 2019, photo shows the sign outside a McDonald’s restaurant.  (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File / AP Newsroom)

The department said its probe encompassed 13 Santonastasso Enterprises-operated McDonald’s locations in Pittsburgh and nearby cities. The alleged violations involved 101 minors working at the restaurants in question.

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"We take our role as a local employer very seriously, and we regret any scheduling issues that may have occurred at our restaurants," the Santonastassos said in a statement to FOX Business. "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."

McDonald’s, in a statement earlier this week, said it “will cooperate with authorities as their investigation moves forward.”  (iStock / iStock)

McDonald’s USA told FOX Business it expects all franchisees to "uphold our values in everything they do."

"While franchisees make local decisions for their businesses, including around labor and employment practices, they must comply with all state and federal laws," the fast-food chain said. "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."

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
MCDMCDONALD’S CORP.271.75+0.28+0.10%

According to its most recent annual report, McDonald’s had just over 40,000 restaurants worldwide at the end of 2021, including over 13,400 in the U.S. 

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The company said that nearly 37,300 (93%) of its approximately 40,000 restaurants globally were franchised in 2021. In the U.S., the percentage was slightly higher at 95%. 

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