Chipotle Mexican Grill was cited with 13,253 child labor law violations in Massachusetts on Monday, CNN reported. The state attorney general, Maura Healey released a statement yesterday detailing the franchise’s offenses. Chipotle agreed to pay the $1.3 million they were fined for child labor violations, making this the largest child labor penalty ever levied by the state.
Under Massachusetts’s state law, minors must work no more than nine hours a day, 48 hours a week, and they must not work past 10 pm. Sixteen- and 17-year-old Chipotle employees at several locations across the state, however, were regularly asked to work long hours past midnight, according to CNN.
These findings are the result of a three-year investigation that began in 2016, after the attorney general’s office received a complaint from a parent in Beverly, Massachusetts that their 16-year-old child was being asked to work past midnight. CNN reported that violations were found at multiple locations throughout the state.
Illyansh Rodriguez, who worked at the Chipotle in Harvard Square from ages 16 to 18, told the Boston Globe that she regularly worked until 1 am and that she and other employees were scared to speak up because they feared retaliation from managers. She was also reportedly required to use the slicer, a mechanical meat guillotine, which is not permitted under state law. “I was afraid that if I did say anything, they might give me even less hours,” said Rodriguez.
“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,” Attorney General Maura Healey said in her statement on the case. Healey’s office has been working diligently to crack down on corporate child labor violations. In August, the state fined the Qdoba chain $400k for similar offenses.
“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,” Healey said. Under this settlement, Chipotle will also shell out an additional 500,000 to youth programs “that will include training and educating young workers about child labor laws,” according to CNN, so they can stay empowered and informed about their rights.