Dunkin Franchise Penalized Over Child Labor Violations

The restaurants unlawfully permitted 14- and-15-year-olds to operate baking ovens.

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BROOKEVILLE, Md. – A federal investigation found Dunkin franchise locations in Maryland and West Virginia allowed 19 minors to work in violation of child labor laws, leading the employer to accept responsibility for the offenses and to sign an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor to prevent future violations at its eight locations in three states.

Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that the Brookeville, Maryland-based enterprise – owned and operated by Nikkil Patel – unlawfully permitted 14-and-15-year-old employees to operate baking ovens and work outside permissible hours as follows:

  • More than three hours a day on a school day.
  • More than 18 hours a week during a regular school week.
  • More than eight hours on a non-school day.
  • Past 7 p.m. on a school night.
  • Beyond 9 p.m. during summer break.

These actions violated child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Minors under the age of 16 are specifically prohibited from all baking and most cooking activities under federal law.

Once the division completed its investigation, the employer paid a civil money penalty of $41,181 to resolve the violations as part of an enhanced compliance agreement to ensure future FLSA compliance at all of the enterprise’s locations. The employer also agreed to provide supervisors and managers with child labor training, supply minors under age 16 and their parents or guardians with child labor publications and establish a dedicated internal phone number for employees to report child labor violations anonymously.

The agreement also provides for a method for store managers to easily identify minors under the age of 16 while they are working to ensure they do not perform prohibited activities, and to put signage and stickers on hazardous equipment to further limit potential risk.

“The kinds of violations in this case, and potential for minors suffering injuries as a result, are wholly preventable,” said Wage and Hour District Director Nicholas Fiorello in Baltimore. “We encourage business owners who employ young workers and those who supervise them to familiarize themselves with federal child labor laws to avoid potentially costly consequences."

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