The federal government has charged a couple with operating 13 McDonald’s restaurants in Pennsylvania with violating more than 100 laws against child labor.
Franchise owners John and Kathleen Santonastasso are being sued by the Department of Labor for allegedly using 14- and 15-year-old workers outside of regular business hours and giving them access to machinery they are not old enough to operate.
Additionally, authorities discovered that on school days, franchise owners routinely worked minors into the evening and for longer than eight hours on non-school days. Both actions are forbidden.
According to John DuMont, the Labor Department’s wage director, allowing young workers to work excessive hours can jeopardize their safety, wellbeing, and education. Employers who use young people must be aware of and abide by federal laws against child labor or face severe penalties.
One inspector discovered a case of a small-scale infraction using a deep fryer.
The Santonastassos’ business has made a $57,332 civil penalty payment.
Due to the demand for additional holiday help from employers at this time of year, DuMont advised parents to be extra cautious about their children’s working hours.
When it comes to these violations, he said, “we’re more likely to see them around the holidays when employers try to hire minors to fill in employment gaps.”
The Santonastassos issued a statement attributing the violations to “scheduling issues,” adding that “the safety and well-being of our employees is always our top priority. As a result, we have since implemented a number of new and improved processes and procedures to ensure employees are scheduled appropriately.”
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