The owners of several McDonald’s restaurants in Pennsylvania have been accused of violating child labor laws, with more than 100 children allegedly working excessive hours.
The US labor department announced on Monday that 13 McDonald’s locations in the Pittsburgh area had violated labor laws designed to protect young employees. An investigation found that 101 child employees had been working excessive hours outside allowable time periods.
The McDonald’s restaurants had been owned by John and Kathleen Santonastasso, who operate Santonastasso Enterprises, based in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, close to Pittsburgh.
The investigation found that 14- and 15-year-olds worked more than three hours a day or more than 18 hours a week during the school week. Minors were also working past 7pm on a school night and past 9pm during summer vacation, both of which are also violations.
“Permitting young workers to work excessive hours can jeopardize their safety, wellbeing and education,” the labor department’s wage and hour district director, John DuMont, said. “Employers who hire young workers must understand and comply with federal child labor laws or face costly consequences.”
In another McDonald’s eatery also operated by Santonastasso, a 16-year-old was allowed to operate a deep fryer that did not have a device to automatically raise and lower baskets.
The Santonastassos were ordered to pay a civil penalty of $57,332.
The Santonastassos told the Washington Post that they were addressing scheduling issues in regards to child labor violations.
“We take our role as a local employer very seriously and we regret any scheduling issues that may have occurred at our restaurants,” John and Kathleen Santonastasso said in a statement.