Chipotle Mexican Grill has agreed to a nearly $2 million settlement with the state of Massachusetts to resolve more than 13,000 alleged violations of child labor laws.
The company will pay $1.37 million in restitution and penalties and write a check for another $500,000 to the state to fund education programs about child labor and enforcement of the laws, as well as training and workforce development for young workers.
“Chipotle is a major national restaurant chain that employs thousands of young people across the country and it has a duty to ensure minors are safe working in its restaurants,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “We hope these citations send a message to other fast-food chains and restaurants that they cannot violate our child labor laws and put young people at risk.”
Started with a parent’s complaint
Healey’s office opened the investigation after the parent of a Chipotle employee under age 18 complained. The parent reported that the young person, who worked at a location in Beverly, Mass., was routinely required to work past midnight.
The investigation reviewed Chiplole’s employee records and determined that this was not an isolated case. It alleged that minors who worked at Chipotle often worked late and were required to perform duties that investigators alleged were in violation of state labor laws.
The alleged violations included minors employed without work permits, allowing dozens of 16- and 17-year old employees to work later than the law allows, and minors working beyond the nine-hour daily limit and 48-hour weekly limit.
The alleged violations didn’t stop there. Investigators said Chipotle did not properly notify employees of their rights under the earned sick time law, failed to provide the attorney general’s office with complete timekeeping records when they were requested, and failed to pay workers within six days of the end of a pay period in some locations.
Now in full compliance
Healey says the restaurant chain cooperated with her investigation and accepted the civil citations as part of the settlement agreement. Since then, she says Chipotle has come into full compliance with state law.
While fast-food and quick-serve restaurants depend heavily on young workers, Massachusetts has very strict rules about employment of minors. State law prevents children under 18 from working more than nine hours a day or more than 48 hours a week.
Fourteen- and 15-year-old children may not work later than 7 pm and 16- and 17-year-old children may not work later than 10 p.m. on a night preceding a school day, or later than midnight preceding a non-school day. State law also requires employers to have work permits on file for all workers under 18 years of age.