Restaurant Pays Penalties After U.S. Department of Labor Finds Child Labor Violations in Commerce, California
LOS ANGELES, CA – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Commerce, California, has paid $27,150 in civil money penalties for violating child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The WHD investigation determined the employer violated child labor requirements by assigning five minor employees to repeatedly load and operate a trash compactor and a cardboard compactor. Three times a day, the employer assigned two-employee teams, regardless of age, to collect trash and boxes and crush them in compactors. This practice resulted in violations when workers less than 18 years old loaded or operated the compactors, which the law prohibits for use by minor employees. The employer also provided all staff members, regardless of age, with the code needed to open the gate to access the compactors.
After investigators notified Chipotle of the violations, the restaurant’s management agreed immediately to pay the civil penalties and to future compliance with all child labor laws.
“Child labor laws exist to strike a balance between providing young people with meaningful work experience and keeping them safe at work. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their work does not jeopardize their health and well-being or conflict with educational opportunities,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Kimchi Bui, in Los Angeles, California. “We invite all employers to contact the Wage and Hour Division for compliance assistance and with any questions they may have about their responsibilities.”
The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos and confidential calls to local WHD offices.
For more information about the FLSA, child labor and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd, including a search tool for workers who may be owed back wages collected by WHD.
WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
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