News Release

US Department of Labor finds 149 children working later, longer than legally allowed at 7 Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers locations

Employer also employed 15-year-old child to operate a manual grease fryer

BIRMINGHAM, AL – A series of U.S. Department of Labor investigations at seven Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers franchise locations in Alabama has found the operator employed 149 children under age 16 to work longer and later than legally permitted by federal child labor provisions and tasked a 15-year-old child to illegally operate a manual deep fryer.

Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that locations, owned by Mark Houghton, employed children – ages 14 and 15 – to work more than three hours on a school day, after 7 p.m. between the day after Labor Day and May 31, and after 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day. They also learned the employer employed a 15-year-old child to use a fryer without an automatic device for lowering and raising its baskets, a prohibited occupation by law

Positive and safe first work experiences can allow young people to develop skills, earn money and learn what it means to be part of the labor force, but a job should never endanger a child’s well-being,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Kenneth Stripling in Birmingham, Alabama. “The Fair Labor Standards Act restricts the hours 14- and 15-year-olds can work and identifies dangerous jobs that are prohibited for workers under 18-years-old.”

The department assessed the employer with $119,029 in civil money penalties to resolve its child labor violations at the following Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers locations: 





301 Doug Baker Blvd.



3270 Mary Taylor Road



2556 Helena Road



5634 Grove Blvd.



2059 Highway 78 East



190 Vaughan Lane

 Pell City


315 15th St. 



In fiscal year 2023, the division found child labor violations involving 5,792 children nationwide, an increase of more than 150 percent since 2018. To address those violations, the division assessed employers more than $8 million in civil money penalties.

Founded in 2002 in Wichita, Kansas, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers was acquired by a private equity firm, Thompson Street Capital Partners in 2021. The company now has more than 500 locations in 36 U.S. states and Canada. 

The Department of Labor’s 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 department and its partners promote developmental work experiences that help prepare young workers to enter the workforce. The Wage and Hour Division has also publisheSeven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers to help employers comply with the law. Learn more about the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor provisions. 

The Wage and Hour Division offers confidential compliance assistance to anyone with questions about how to comply with the law by calling the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Visit the agency’s website to learn more about the Wage and Hour Division. Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for iPhone and Android devices – free and available in English and Spanish – to ensure hours and pay are accurate.

Wage and Hour Division
April 15, 2024
Release Number
Media Contact: Eric R. Lucero
Phone Number
Media Contact: Erika Ruthman
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