Subway, Burger King, and Popeyes Fined for Violating Child Labor Laws


Subway, Burger King, and Popeyes operators in South Carolina have been fined by the Department of Labor (DOL) for allegedly violating child labor laws. Some of these violations include allowing minors to work more hours than permitted by law and assigning them to perform tasks that are not permitted by law. According to a statement made by the DOL, these fast-food restaurants "illegally employed workers under the age of 18 at hours and in occupations that jeopardized their safety.” 

Examples of Child Labor Law Violations

A recent Business Insider article shed light on the specific child labor law violations that these restaurants are accused of. In four South Carolina Subway stores, 13 employees between the ages of 14 and 15 worked past 9 p.m. during the summer months. At another store, 15-year-olds were working past 7 p.m. during non-summer months. These are both violations of child labor laws in relation to hours that children are allowed to work during summer months. At this same Subway, several minors were engaged in what the DOL described as “prohibited baking activities.” As explained by the Business Insider article, “Workers aged 14 and 15 can prepare food as part of their job, but can't bake, remove items from ovens, or place products on cooling trays under federal labor law.” 

At a South Carolina Burger King, two 15-year-olds worked more hours during a school week than is allowed by law. According to federal law, child employees cannot work longer than 18 hours per week at this age during school weeks. The same violation occurred at a South Carolina Popeyes, where three 15-year-old workers also worked over 18 hours during school weeks. The DOL stated that the Popeyes operator, "clocked out some employees automatically while they continued to perform work.” The department was able to recover $2031 in overtime back wages and liquidated damages for nine Popeyes workers. Lastly, Business Insider reported that “three 16-year-old employees who were allowed to work as delivery drivers at Frodo's Pizza in Greenville, South Carolina, violating a federal law that prevents employees aged 16 and under from driving vehicles as part of their job.”

More Information on Child Labor Law Violations 

Jamie Benefiel, district director of the DOL's Wage and Hour Division in Columbia, South Carolina, stated, "Restaurant industry employers must understand and comply with child labor laws concerning hours and occupations. Industry employers, workers and their parents should contact us with their questions about youth employment laws.” The Wage and Hour Division's Southeast region reported large numbers of child labor law violations in recent years. This spike is most likely related to the fact the restaurants are struggling to retain employees during the pandemic, meaning that existing employees are working longer hours, including children. 

Seek Legal Assistance Today 

If you believe your labor and employment rights are being violated, seek legal assistance from the Law Office of Christopher Q. Davis, located in New York City and Livingston, NJ. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel. We are a team of best-in-class employment attorneys working in the New York and New Jersey area and vigorously defending clients who may have issues such as severance agreements, unpaid wages and overtime, and discrimination.