Wendy’s Restaurants across the U.S. have been accused of violating child labor laws and a Franchisee has been ordered to pay a six-figure fine. Several Florida stores are involved, necessitating the assistance of employment law attorneys who know the laws in support of young people’s working rights. The Fair Labor Standards Act was disregarded with violations of wages and hours at nearly 100 restaurants in nine states. Wendy’s is now facing fines of $157,114. The allegations claimed that at least 446 minors had worked before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. on school nights, worked more than three hours on a school day, or worked more than eight hours on a non-school day. The violations were discovered in restaurants located in Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota and more.

Child labor laws.
Child labor laws are in place to protect young people during a period of life when they need to focus on the advancement of their educational opportunities and their overall health and well-being. Florida child labor laws regulate the employment of youth in the state of Florida. These laws dictate ages, times and type of employment a youth may engage in and perform. Children under the age of 13 may not work in the State of Florida, unless there is an exceptional situation. Fourteen and 15-year-old-children may work, but have limitations on the amount of hours they can work in a day, or a week, and have specific starting and stopping times for the job, so it does not negatively impact school and health of students, especially during the school year. Young people who are 16 and 17-year-olds may work in a broad range of jobs, with the exception of those that pose a hazardous situation to them.

Criminal and civil penalties.
Employers who violate Florida child labor laws may be subject to criminal charges and civil penalties; and can be charged with a 2nd degree misdemeanor, punishable as provided in Florida Statutes 775.082 or 775.083. In addition to potential criminal charges, employers or other entities who violate Florida’s child labor laws may be subject to administrative fines not to exceed $2,500 per offense. The Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation must give the employer or other entity notice that it believes a violation has occurred, the provision of the child labor law that was violated, the facts that support the allegation, the remedial requirement, and the time frame in which the requirement must be met. Fines may only be levied if the employer or other entity fails to remedy the violation within the time given in the notice. Below are potential violations for the actions against Wendy’s in this instance.

Violation of work hours restrictions of the child labor law
• 1st Offense – up to $700
• 2nd Offense – up to $1,200
• 3rd Offense – up to $2,500

Any other violation of the Florida child labor laws
• 1st Offense – up to $500
• 2nd Offense – up to $1,500
• 3rd Offense – up to $2,500

Sources:
https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/OPA/newsreleases/2020/01/WHD20200018.pdf
https://www.flrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?title=CHILD%20LABOR%20RULE&ID=61L-2.009

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