Three McDonald's franchises in Kentucky were fined more than $200,000 for employing 305 children and violating federal child labor laws.
A Department of Labor investigation uncovered two 10-year-olds working in a McDonald's restaurant in Louisville.
The agency said the children, who were not paid, sometimes worked as late as 2 a.m.
They reportedly did numerous tasks, including preparing orders, working the drive-thru and operating the register. One of the children also operated the deep fryer, which is a prohibited task for workers under 16 years old, the Department of Labor stated.
"Under no circumstances should there ever be a 10-year-old child working in a fast-food kitchen around hot grills, ovens and deep fryers," said Wage and Hour Division District Director Karen Garnett-Civils.
The 10-year-olds worked for the Bauer Food LLC franchise, which also employed 22 other minors. They reportedly worked more hours than legally allowed.
Workers in the U.S. can legally be employed at age 14, but there are limits on how many hours they can work.
The Department of Labor said Archways Richwood LLC, which operates 27 McDonald’s locations, employed 242 minors, between ages 14 and 15.
"Some of these children worked more than the daily and weekly limits during school days and school weeks, and the employer allowed two of them to work during school hours," the Department of Labor stated.
Bell Restaurant Group I LLC was cited for the same practice among its 39 workers between ages 14 and 15.
"Child labor laws exist to ensure that when young people work, the job does not jeopardize their health, well-being or education," said Garnett-Civils.
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