Child Labor in Kentucky McDonald’s: A Wake-up Call for Employers

Investigations found around 300 children worked illegally at a McDonald's in Kentucky, some as young as 10. The franchisees were fined $212,000.

The Labor Department’s recent investigation into child labor at a McDonald’s franchise in Louisville, Kentucky, uncovered a shocking reality: around 300 children, including two 10-year-olds, were working illegally in the restaurant. The franchisees responsible for this illegal employment were fined a total of $212,000.

It’s distressing to know that child labor still exists in developed countries like the United States. Federal child labor regulations put strict limits on the types of jobs children can perform and the hours they can work. Yet, many employers still fail to follow these laws and exploit young workers for their own gain.

According to the Labor Department, Louisville’s Bauer Food LLC, which operates 10 McDonald’s locations, employed 24 minors under the age of 16 to work more hours than legally permitted. These children received little or no pay for their work, and some worked as late as 2 a.m. They were involved in tasks such as preparing and distributing food orders, cleaning the store, working at the drive-thru window, and operating a register. Shockingly, one child was even allowed to operate a deep fryer, a task that is prohibited for workers under 16.

The franchise owner-operator, Sean Bauer, defended himself by saying that the two 10-year-olds were only visiting their parent, a night manager, and weren’t employees. However, the Labor Department found evidence to the contrary, stating that the children were indeed working in the restaurant.

The Kentucky investigations are part of an ongoing effort by the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division to stop child labor abuses in the Southeast. “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,” said division Director Karen Garnett-Civils.

This investigation serves as a wake-up call to all employers to prioritize the safety and well-being of their workers, especially when it comes to minors. It’s essential to ensure that children are not exploited in the workplace, and employers must take the necessary steps to follow federal child labor regulations.

Let’s hope that this case brings much-needed attention to the issue of child labor and encourages employers to take the necessary measures to prevent it from happening in the future.