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Chipotle Agrees To $1.3 Million Penalty For Violating Mass. Child Labor Laws

A man walks near a closed Chipotle restaurant earlier this month in Cleveland Circle. (Steven Senne/AP)
A man walks near a closed Chipotle restaurant earlier this month in Cleveland Circle. (Steven Senne/AP)

Chipotle Mexican Grill on Monday agreed to pay $1.37 million in restitution and penalties for violating child labor laws in Massachusetts, in the largest child labor investigation in the history of the state attorney general's office.

The investigation was launched in 2016, after the office received a complaint from a the parent of a young employee alleging that the minor had worked past midnight at a Chipotle in Beverly, which is against Massachusetts law.

Attorney General Maura Healey says a review of the restaurant chain's records revealed that minors routinely worked in violation of state child labor laws.

Audits of Massachusetts Chipotle restaurants between 2015 and 2019 identified 13,253 child labor violations.

Healey said "minors were working way too late into the evenings and early hours of the morning, they were working way too many hours per shift and without proper work permits."

Among the violations, state investigators found Chipotle allowed minors to work more than the 9-hour daily limit and the 48-hour weekly limit.

The attorney general said the restaurant chain provided records to investigators and has agreed to train employees and put procedures in place to comply with child labor laws.

“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," the company said in a statement.

Chipotle also said it has committed to donating $500,000 as part of the settlement "for the education and enforcement oversight related to child labor laws, for training and skills development of young workers, and to assist Massachusetts youth."

The company has more than 50 locations in the state.

Healey said the settlement sends a message: "Fast food chains and restaurants and employers need to comply with child labor laws."

By law, 14- and 15-year-olds are not allowed to work past 7 p.m. and 16- and 17-year-olds cannot work after 10 p.m. on a school night.

"We want to make sure our young people, sure, are able to go to work, but we don't want them exploited," Healey said.

Paul Connearney Weekend Managing Editor
Paul Connearney is the Weekend Managing Editor and Weekday Senior Writer who oversees WBUR's local news operations on weekends and contributes to WBUR's All Things Considered during the week.

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