Speed Reads

Trouble at the Golden Arches

Investigation finds hundreds of children, including a pair of 10-year-olds, working at McDonald's

More than 300 children were found working at McDonald's restaurants in Kentucky and several other states, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) said Tuesday. This includes one location in Louisville where a pair of 10-year-olds were allegedly found to be working unpaid, sometimes until 2 a.m. 

In a press release, the DOL announced the results of an investigation into labor practices at three franchisees operating 62 McDonald's locations in Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, and Ohio. The investigation found that the trio of franchisees "employed 305 children to work more than the legally permitted hours and perform tasks prohibited by law for young workers." 

Bauer Food LLC, which operates 10 McDonald's restaurants in the Louisville area, was allegedly found to be employing 24 minors under the age of 16, including the two 10-year-olds. These two children "prepared and distributed food orders, cleaned the store, worked at the drive-thru window, and operated a register," the DOL said. At least one of them was also allowed to operate a deep fryer, the DOL added, a task prohibited by federal law for employees under 16.  

Franchise owner-operator Sean Bauer told The Associated Press the 10-year-olds were only visiting their parent that managed the store, and didn't actually work there. "Any 'work' was done at the direction of —  and in the presence of — the parent without authorization by franchisee organization management or leadership," Bauer added.

The other two franchisees, Archways Richwood LLC and Bell Restaurant Group I LLC, also allowed 242 and 39 minors, respectively, to work beyond law-permitting hours, the DOL alleged. 

The franchisees were fined a combined $212,754 for violating child labor laws, the DOL said. 

McDonald's USA spokeswoman Tiffanie Boyd said the DOL's report was "unacceptable, deeply troubling, and run afoul of the high expectations we have for the entire McDonald's brand."