McDonald’s franchisee accused of overworking more than 100 youths



A Department of Labor investigation found child labor violations involving more than 100 youth at McDonald’s locations in the Pittsburgh area.

McDonald’s franchisee Santonastasso Enterprises violated U.S. labor laws by allowing dozens of 14- and 15-year-olds to work outside of legal hours at 13 restaurants, the Labor Department said Monday. In one case, a minor was illegally allowed to operate a fryer without proper safety equipment.

The McDonald’s locations, Labor investigators said, broke the law by allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to work more than three hours a day, and after 7 p.m. on school days, and later than 9 p.m. in the summer. The agency also accused the company of illegally employing youths for more than eight hours a day on weekends and more than 18 hours a week during school weeks.

“Allowing young workers to work excessive hours could put their safety, well-being and education at risk,” said Department of Labor official John DuMont. “Employers who hire young workers must understand and comply with federal child labor laws or face costly consequences.”

Santonastasso was fined $57,000 for the child labor violations, according to the Labor Department.

In a Facebook video posted in 2021, franchisees John and Kathleen Santonastasso said they ran a “people first” business that offered a “fun” environment, flexibility, and the opportunity to earn money for college. On Friday, they said the company now has new procedures in place to avoid scheduling issues.

“We take our role as a local employer very seriously and regret any scheduling issues that may have occurred in our restaurants,” John and Kathleen Santonastasso said in a statement.

The McDonald’s company did not respond to a request for comment.

Dozens of youths illegally employed to clean meat factories, says Labor Dept

The investigation follows a series of reports about the illegal use of child labor this year in other industries, including meatpacking and auto parts manufacturing, amid a nationwide labor shortage. Across the country, employers across the country are increasingly hiring younger workers. The trend is particularly noticeable in industries that have lost many workers during the pandemic, such as restaurants.

Earlier this year, the Alabama Department of Labor charged factories that make auto parts for Hyundai and Kia with the illegal use of child labor after Reuters reported that a Hyundai subsidiary near Montgomery employed migrant youths as young as 12.

Another federal investigation in November found that one of the largest food safety sanitation providers illegally employed dozens of youths at several JBS meatpacking plants across the Midwest. Investigators found that 13- and 14-year-olds suffered severe chemical burns while working with cleaning products in the graveyard.

The Fair Labor Standards Act includes a set of child labor laws enacted to protect the well-being and educational opportunities of minors and to prevent them from working in hazardous conditions.

Between 2017 and 2021, investigators found child labor law violations in more than 4,000 cases, involving more than 13,000 minors, the Labor Department said Friday.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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