News Release

Owner of 20 Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries restaurants enters compliance agreement, pays $11K in penalties for child labor violations

The Little Mint Inc. employed children outside of allowed hours, assigned dangerous tasks

CROSSVILLE, TN – The owner of 20 Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries locations has entered an enhanced compliance agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor that aims to improve working conditions for minor-aged employees and compliance with federal labor regulations at their 20 locations in Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

The agreement comes after the department’s Wage and Hour Division investigated The Little Mint Inc. – operating as Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries in Crossville – and determined the employer employed 13 children to work after 7 p.m. between Labor Day and June 1 and more than three hours during a school day, both violations of the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. In addition, the employer employed a 15-year-old to use manual fryers for cooking fries, a prohibited task for workers under the age of 16.

As part of the agreement, The Little Mint must take the following steps at each of their establishments – to include any current and future locations owned, controlled or operated alone or in conjunction with others – to ensure future compliance: 

  • Not allow 14- and 15-year-olds to use manual fryers or engage in cooking activities in any of the occupations prohibited under the law.
  • Refrain from employing 14- and 15-year-olds to work outside of the hours permitted by law.
  • Distribute a copy of the child labor provisions for non-agricultural occupations under the FLSA to all current and future locations owned by the enterprise and require all managers and shift leaders to review it annually and return a compliance acknowledgement.
  • Post notices on machines that 14- and 15-year-olds are not legally allowed to use. 
  • Require all 14- and 15-year-old workers, and their parents or guardians, to sign an understanding of the child labor occupational and hours requirements under the law.
  • Ensure area directors perform quarterly reviews of time records for 14- and 15-year-old workers.
  • Mandate that employees under the age of 16 are distinguishable from other workers with modified uniform requirements and different color name tags. 

The agency assessed $11,453 in penalties for The Little Mint to address the child labor violations. 

Employers must never jeopardize the safety and well-being of young workers or interfere with their education. While learning new skills in the workforce is an important part of growing up, children must be protected from workplace hazards. That protection is an employer’s obligation,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Lisa Kelly in Nashville, Tennessee. “The Fair Labor Standards Act allows for appropriate work opportunities for young people but includes important restrictions on their work hours and job duties to keep kids safe.” 

Headquartered in Mt. Olive, NC and operating as Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries, The Little Mint Inc. manages three Georgia locations in Brunswick, Kingsland and Waycross; two Louisiana locations in Denham Springs and Zachary; 11 North Carolina locations in Fayetteville, Goldsboro, Greenville, Havelock, Hope Mills, Morehead City, Mt. Olive, New Bern, Rocky Mount, Wallace and Wilson; two Tennessee locations in Crossville and Fayetteville; and two Texas locations in Athens and Ennis. In all, the enterprise employs nearly 160 workers.   

In fiscal year 2023, the Wage and Hour Division found child labor violations in more than 950 investigations, resulting in more than $8 million in penalties assessed to employers. 

Employers must avoid violations or potentially face costly consequences. The department offers numerous child labor compliance resources and employers may contact their local Wage and Hour Division office directly for guidance,” added Kelly.

The YouthRules! initiative promotes positive and safe work experiences for teens by providing information about protections for young workers to youth, parents, employers and educators. Through this initiative, the U.S. Department of Labor and its partners promote developmental work experiences that help prepare young workers to enter the workforce. The Wage and Hour Division has also published Seven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers to help employers comply with the law.

Workers and employers can call the division confidentially with questions and the department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the agency, contact the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). 

Workers and employers can help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android or iOS Timesheet App for free in English and Spanish. 

Wage and Hour Division
March 6, 2024
Release Number
Media Contact: Eric R. Lucero
Phone Number
Media Contact: Erika Ruthman
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