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10-year-olds found working without pay at Kentucky McDonald's

The two children were helping prepare and distribute orders, cleaning the store, and working the drive-thru and cash register.

McDonald's | Shutterstock

May 5, 2023 7:25am

Updated: May 5, 2023 7:25am

An investigation found two 10-year-old children working at a McDonald’s restaurant without pay in Lousiville, Kentucky, the U.S. Department of Labor said in a statement released on Tuesday. 

“Investigators from the department’s Wage and Hour Division found two 10-year-old workers at a Louisville McDonald’s restaurant among many violations of federal labor laws committed by three Kentucky McDonald’s franchise operators,” the release said. 

“Investigators also determined two 10-year-old children were employed – but not paid – and sometimes worked as late as 2 a.m,” the release continued. 

The two children were helping prepare and distribute orders, cleaning the store, and working the drive-thru and cash register, according to the investigators. Additionally, one of them was operating the deep fryer, which is illegal for minors under 16 to operate under federal law. 

According to the franchise owner, Bauer Foods LLC, the 10-year-olds were allegedly the sons of a night manager and were visiting their father at work. However, they were not authorized to be part of the restaurant. 

“Too often, employers fail to follow the child labor laws that protect young workers,” said Karen Garnett-Civils, the agency’s wage and hour division district director, in a statement. 

“Under no circumstances should there ever be a 10-year-old child working in a fast-food kitchen around hot grills, ovens, and deep fryers,” she added. 

The labor violations found by the Department of Labor were part of a broader investigation into child labor law violations in the Southeast. 

In addition to the minors working in Kentucky, the agency found three other franchises owning more than 60 different McDondald’s locations in Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, and Ohio that had more than 305 children working more than the legally permitted hours and performing tasks that are illegal for minors to perform. 

The franchises—Bauer Food LLC, Archways Richwood LLC, and Bell Restaurant Group I LLC— are facing a combined $212,754 in civil penalties for child labor violations. 

“These reports are unacceptable, deeply troubling, and run afoul of the high expectations we have for the entire McDonald’s brand. […] We are committed to ensuring our franchisees have the resources they need to foster safe workplaces for all employees and maintain compliance with all labor laws,” said Tiffanie Boyd, senior vice president and chief of people officer at McDonald’s USA.