Chipotle has received a $1.37 million fine for more than 13,000 child labor violations in the state of Massachusetts, the state's Attorney General Maura Healey announced yesterday. That's the culmination of the largest child labor investigation in the AG office's history, and the largest child labor penalty ever issued by the state.
The state's audit of Chipotle has gone on since 2016, when Healey's office received a complaint in from the parent of an employee who claimed that their child had been working at Chipotle past midnight. By Massachusetts law, 14- and 15-year-olds aren't permitted to work after 7 p.m., and 16- and 17-year olds can't work later than 10 p.m. on school nights or later than midnight on non-school-nights. The state also limits the number of hours worked by children under 18.
After reviewing Chipotle's records, the AG's office found that several Chipotle locations violated child labor laws between 2015 and 2019, including allowing minors to work without permits, keeping them at work too late, and scheduling them for more hours than acceptable by law. The result was an estimated 13,253 child labor law violations. In 2019, for comparison, the AG's office issued only 41 child labor law violations for a total of roughly $487,000 in fines.
"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," Attorney General 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."
The fine also includes penalties for wage and hour violations, like failing to pay workers within six days of the end of a pay period and improperly notifying employees of their earned sick time rights. Chipotle has accepted its citations and has since "come into compliance" with the state's child labor laws, according to the AG's office announcement.
"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," Chipotle told VICE in a statement. It will also be donating $500,000 toward "the education and enforcement oversight related to child labor laws, for training and skills development of young workers, and to assist Massachusetts youth."