COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) — A Columbia-area Burger King franchise investigation into child labor law has led to fines and a compliance agreement from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Investigators from the department’s Wage and Hour Division reviewed time records from Applegreen USA Central Services LLC, which operates as Burger King in the Columbia area. The results of the review revealed child labor violations in nine locations.
Records showed that 26 underage employees, ages 14 to 15, worked more than three hours on a school day after 7 p.m. while school was in session. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minors may work outside of school hours a maximum of three hours per school day up to 18 hours total per school week.
The franchise was fined $17,966 in civil penalties and entered into a compliance agreement to review its workplace practices. Labor Department investigators said next steps would include:
- Continued enforcement of child labor regulations for minors
- Additional training for managers, including certification of compliance
- Inclusion of information on hiring minors as part of standard training for newly hired or promoted managers
- Enforcement provision added to employee handbook
- Obligation for all employees under the age of 16 to receive information on their working hours restrictions
- Implementing methods for underage employees to report child labor violations and preventing retaliation or discrimination against anyone who reports a violation.
“With the resumption of schools, employers must ensure that each member of their management team knows and applies the rules on child labor regarding permitted hours and occupations. By entering into an enhanced compliance agreement with the Wage and Hour Division, Applegreen USA Central Services has demonstrated its commitment to protecting the safety and well-being of young workers,”
said Wage and Hour Division district manager Jamie Benefiel in Columbia, South Carolina.
Applegreen USA Central Services LLC operates in more than 120 locations nationwide. These include gas stations such as BP, Pitt Stop, 7-Eleven, Shell, Sunoco and Smart. It also operates fast food franchises in addition to Burger King, which include Pizza Hutt, DeLucas and Subway restaurants.
The Wage and Hour Division reported that more than 190 employers were investigated between 2020 and 2021 for child labor violations in the Southeastern United States. This resulted in penalties of over a million dollars for the companies.
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