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10-year-olds worked unpaid shifts at Kentucky McDonald's, sometimes until 2am: Report
Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

10-year-olds worked unpaid shifts at Kentucky McDonald's, sometimes until 2am: Report

A new report from the U.S. Department of Labor suggests that a McDonald's in Kentucky permitted two 10-year-olds to work unpaid shifts that sometimes ran into the wee hours of the morning.

The report released Tuesday indicates that the children worked at a McDonald's located in Louisville and owned by franchisee Bauer Foods LLC. The children performed all sorts of tasks that are typical in the fast food industry, including serving meals, operating the drive-thru window, and cleaning. One of the two children even supposedly used the deep fryer, a piece of machinery considered "dangerous equipment" and therefore forbidden to those under 16.

Since last August, the children reportedly worked 10 total shifts that lasted anywhere from two to four hours, and they sometimes stayed at the store until 2 a.m. They did not receive payment for their work, the USDL report said.

Bauer Foods admitted to CNN that the two children had been working at the store without authorization. They are the children of a night manager and were visiting their parent when they performed tasks for the restaurant. Bauer Foods has since been fined $39,711 for the alleged child labor law violations.

"Too often, employers fail to follow the child labor laws that protect young workers," said Karen Garnett-Civils, the USDL wage and hour division district director in Louisville. "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."

Though perhaps the most egregious, the two 10-year-olds are hardly the only examples of child labor law violations allegedly committed by McDonald's franchises in the region. In fact, 60 total stores located across Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, and Ohio have likewise been fined for illegal child labor practices. Bauer Foods and two other franchisees, Archways Richwood and Bell Restaurant Group, each own some of the stores. The three franchisees have been fined a total of $212,754 for labor law infractions, including assigning teens to work early in the morning or late at night, failing to pay overtime wages, and even scheduling teens to work during the school day.

"These reports are unacceptable, deeply troubling and run afoul of the high expectations we have for the entire McDonald’s brand," McDonald's senior vice president and chief people officer Tiffanie Boyd said in a statement. "It is not lost on us the significant responsibility we carry to ensure a positive and safe experience for everyone under the Arches.

"I know how important it is that every restaurant fosters a culture of safety," the statement continued. "As a mother whose teenage son proudly worked at our local McDonald’s, I feel this on a very personal level. We are committed to ensuring our franchisees have the resources they need to foster safe workplaces for all employees and maintain compliance with all labor laws."

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