MORRISTOWN, Tenn. – A U.S. Department of Labor child labor investigation has found that the operator of a McDonald’s franchise location in Morristown assigned a 15-year-old employee – who suffered hot oil burns while using a deep fryer – to perform tasks considered hazardous for young workers.
Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division learned that Faris Enterprises of TN LLC, operator of the McDonald’s location at 2505 East Morris Blvd., illegally allowed the minor to cook french fries using a hot oil deep fryer without an automatic basket to lower and raise its contents. The division determined the 15-year-old worker was removing the food from the fryer manually when they were burned. The division assessed Fairs Enterprises a $3,258 civil penalty for the child labor violation.
During its investigation, the division also found Faris Enterprises had deducted pay from two workers during overtime workweeks to account for uniforms and cash register shortages, violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Faris had committed similar violations in the past. The division recovered $45 in back wages for the affected workers and assessed the employer $882 in civil money penalties given the violations’ repeat nature.
“Since 2018, we have seen an alarming increase in federal child labor violations, including allowing minors to operate equipment or do types of work that endangers them or employing them for more hours or later in the day than federal law allows,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Lisa Kelly in Nashville, Tennessee. “Any employer who hires young workers must know what work they are allowed to do and when they can and cannot work. Unfortunately, our investigators are finding too many employers who are unaware of the law or chose to ignore it.”
The division found 688 minors employed in hazardous occupations in fiscal year 2022, the highest annual count since fiscal year 2011.
“Young workers, their parents and other stakeholders should use our online tools or contact the Wage and Hour Division for guidance, compliance assistance or other resources,” added Kelly.