Worcester Business Journal Staff | February 18, 2020
Fast-food chain Wendy’s has entered into a $400,000 settlement with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to resolve a complaint of alleged violations of child labor laws, which originated out of a Wendy’s in Worcester but related to the company’s 46 corporate-owned locations throughout the state.
The AG’s Office began investigating Wendy’s after receiving a complaint from a minor employed at a Wendy’s in Worcester alleging minor employees were working too late into the evening and too many hours per day. Wendy’s cooperated with the AG’s investigation and provided records for several locations showing the restaurant was in violation of two child labor laws by allowing 16- and 17-year old employees to work later than the law allows and beyond the nine-hour daily limit. The AG’s Office estimated more than 2,100 violations at Wendy’s restaurants in Massachusetts.
After the AG’s Office informed Wendy’s of the findings of its investigation, the company undertook changes to its business practices such as modifying its scheduling system to flag minor scheduling issues for managers, issuing all minor employees a red visor to indicate to managers they are under 18, including child labor processes in daily checklists for managers, and undertaking training and auditing efforts.
The company implemented a national child labor audit and compliance program as a result of the AG’s investigation.
As part of the settlement, $200,000 of Wendy’s payment will be directed to a fund administered by the AG’s Office to benefit young people through education programs about child labor and enforcement of the laws, as well as training and workforce development for young workers.
Under Massachusetts law, children under 18 may not work more than 9 hours in a day or more than 48 hours in a week. Fourteen- and 15-year-old children may not work later than 7 p.m. and 16- and 17-year-old children may not work later than 10 p.m. on a night preceding a school day, or later than midnight preceding a non-school day. State law requires employers to have work permits on file for all workers under 18 years of age.
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