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Chipotle Was Hit With The Biggest Child Labor Penalty In Massachusetts After An Investigation Proved The Chain Was Violating Child Labor And Sick Time Laws

Chipotle was just hit with the biggest child labor penalty in the state of Massachusetts. Turns out the Mexican fast-food chain was cited for violating child labor and sick time laws. Some of the child labor violations include minors working without valid work permits, working too late into the evening and too many hours daily and weekly. 

Massachusetts’s Attorney General just hit Chipotle with the largest ever child labor penalty in the state.

Attorney General Maura Healey ordered the largest child labor penalty ever issued by the state against the Mexican restaurant chain after finding an estimated 13,253 child labor violations in its more than 50 locations.

“Chipotle is a major national restaurant chain that employs thousands of young people across the country and it has a duty to ensure minors are safe working in its restaurants,” Healey said in a statement. “We hope these citations send a message to other fast-food chains and restaurants that they cannot violate our child labor laws and put young people at risk.”

A review of the chain’s records revealed that minors “routinely worked in violation of the child labor laws,” according to AG Healey.

The fine detailed that Chipotle had employees under the age of 18 working past midnight and for more than 48 hours a week. Teenagers told investigators their hours of work were so long that it was preventing them from keeping up with their schoolwork. The company also regularly hired minors without work permits. 

Some Twitter users and former Chipotle employees were not surprised. 

“Not even a small bit surprised” tweeted one user.

Just last year, workers at an NYC Chipotle staged a mini-strike over the same issues.

“Keep your tacos, keep your bowls, pay your workers what they’re owed!” chanted the crowd of about 30 workers before employees at the Sixth Ave. store in Greenwich Village walked off the job in a staged strike. Workers at another four Chipotle outlets in the city planned to join the Manhattan group in a protest against their employer, which had violated city law by overbooking their weekly work schedules.

“Right now, we’re fighting for our rights as Chipotle workers,” said part-time employee Carlos Hernandez. “I honestly don’t believe the management shows the employees respect. They just don’t want to give us the hours. They don’t want to give us more money.”

The AG’s office of Massachusetts began investigating Chipotle in 2016.

The investigation started after a minor’s parent alleged that the employee had worked “well past” midnight at a Chipotle restaurant in Beverly, the AG’s office said. Audits between 2015 and 2019 identified child labor violations such as minors working without valid work permits, too late into the evening, and too many hours daily and weekly. The chain regularly permitted dozens of 16- and 17-year-old employees to work later than what is allowed by law and worked minors past the nine-hour daily limit and 48-hour weekly limit, the AG’s office said.

Some people have taken to social media to express their discomfort with Chipotle as a workplace.

“Working at this Chipotle makes me feel real uncomfortable” wrote one user. “They over work [their] minors”

Chipotle also did not notify employees of their right to earned sick time. 

According to the AG’s office, the chain did not properly notify employees of their rights under the earned sick time law. It failed to provide the AG’s office with complete timekeeping records and, in some locations, failed to pay workers within six days of the end of the pay period. 

The chain was cooperative with the investigation and is now in compliance with state child labor laws. 

“We are committed to ensuring that our restaurants are in full compliance with all laws and regulations and we believe that in hiring workers beginning at age 16, we can provide younger employees with valuable experiences and provide a compelling work environment,” Laurie Schalow, chief corporate reputation officer of Chipotle, said in a statement.

The settlement total is close to $2 million.

The settlement includes penalties for earned sick time violations in which managers granted employees paid time off only for certain illnesses. The violations also include failure to keep accurate records and pay timely wages. Lastly, the company was ordered a voluntary $500,000 payout to a state youth worker fund dedicated to education, enforcement, and training.

READ: Chipotle Is Expanding Its Menu Options For A Limited Time Only, They’re Adding Carne Asada To Stores Nationwide

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