BOSTON – Attorney General Maura Healey announced today that her office has reached a $400,000 settlement with Wendy’s International LLC that resolves allegations that the company violated Massachusetts child labor laws at its 46 corporate-owned locations across the state.
“Employers have a duty to follow our child labor laws and protect their young employees,” said AG Healey. “Wendy’s came into compliance as a result of our investigation and took meaningful steps to ensure a safe and productive work environment for its young workers.”
The AG’s Office began investigating Wendy’s after receiving a complaint from a minor employed at a Wendy’s in Worcester alleging that 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 that showed 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 that they are under 18, including child labor processes in daily checklists for managers, and undertaking significant training and auditing efforts. The company also 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.
AG Healey’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing state laws regulating the payment of wages, including prevailing wage, minimum wage, overtime, and earned sick time laws. 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 also requires employers to have work permits on file for all workers under 18 years of age.
In fiscal year 2019, the AG’s Office issued 41 citations for child labor law violations totaling more than $487,000 in penalties. AG Healey recently resolved several child labor investigations, including citing Chipotle $2 million for an estimated 13,253 child labor violations and other state wage and hour law violations, and citing Qdoba $400,000 for more than 1,000 child labor law violations at its 22 corporate-owned locations in Massachusetts.
Workers who believe that their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to file a complaint at www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor. For information about the state’s wage and hour laws, workers may call the AG’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465 or go to the AG’s Workplace Rights website www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor for materials in multiple languages.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Amy Goyer and Investigator Christina Proietti of the AG’s Fair Labor Division.