U.S. Labor Department takes child labor law actions against NH, Vermont eateries

McDonald’s, Dunkin’ and Tuscan Brands locations fined as part of long-running enforcement initiative

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Northern New England District Office says it uncovered child labor law violations earlier this year at several McDonald’s and Dunkin’ locations in New Hampshire and Vermont as well as three restaurants owned by Salem, NH-based Tuscan Brands.

The office said the actions stem from its long-running effort to educate restaurant owners about, and enforce, federal child labor laws. The actions were taken incidents at nine McDonald’s locations in New Hampshire and Vermont that are owned by Coughlin Inc., 12 Dunkin’ locations owned by Vermont Donut Enterprise LLC and Tuscan Brands locations in Salem and Portsmouth in New Hampshire and Newburyport, Mass.

The department said Coughlin Inc. paid violations totaling $109,125 to resolve charges that it allowed 142 workers – ages 14 and 15 – to work beyond the number of hours federal law permits. Additionally, the agency said, it allowed 18 workers – ages 14 and 15 to use deep-fat fryers not equipped with devices to automatically raise and lower the fry baskets and allowed four minors to use an oven to bake. Two minors received burns while performing restricted work, the agency said.

At the 12 Dunkin’ franchise locations, the agency said Vermont Donut Enterprises LLC allowed 44 workers ages 14 and 15 to work over the federal hourly restrictions. In addition, they allowed 17 workers ages 14 and 15 to operate high-speed ovens, with six minors receiving burns while performing prohibited baking duties. One incident also involved allowing a 16-year-old worker to operate a motor vehicle to make trips between two locations. A fine of $49,756 was assessed to resolve the violations, the agency said.

The Tuscan Brands violations involved the Tuscan Kitchen and Tuscan Market locations in Salem, the Toscana Chop House in Portsmouth and Tuscan Sea Grill in Newburyport. The agency said 11 workers aged 14 and 15 were allowed to work to work excessive hours and in another case a 13-year-old, below the federal minimum age for most employment in non-agricultural occupations, was working. Some $15,737 in assessed civil penalties were assessed in those cases.

“Ensuring the safety of our youngest workers and bringing employers into compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor restrictions are high priorities for the Wage and Hour Division,” said Wage and Hour District Director Steven McKinney in Manchester. “As the labor market tightens, employers may look to younger workers to fill job vacancies. However, there are limits on what jobs young workers can perform and how often they can work.” She said the agency is urging employers to review the information available on its Seven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers website.

She said her office is also offering free webinars for employers, parents and educators to learn more about the FLSA’s youth employment protections on Sept. 29 from 10-11 a.m. and Oct. 6 from 2-3 p.m. While attendance is free, registration is required. Those interested can register for the Sept. 29 webinar here and for the Oct. 6 webinar here.

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