The Department of Labor said an investigation found child labor violations that involved 101 minors at McDonald's restaurants in the Pittsburgh area.
Santonastasso Enterprises, a McDonald's franchisee based in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, allowed 14 and 15-year-old employees to work outside allowable hours, according to the Department of Labor. The violations included working more than 3 hours per day and after 7 p.m. on school days, working more than 8 hours on a non-school day and more than 18 hours a week in a regular school week, among other impermissible hours. .
"Permitting young workers to work excessive hours can jeopardize their safety, well-being, and education," Wage and Hour Division District Director John DuMont said in a Monday news release. "Employers who hire young workers must understand and comply with federal child labor laws or face costly consequences."
The minor employees worked at 13 McDonald's locations, according to the Department of Labor. A child under the age of 16 was also allowed to operate a deep fryer, "which was not equipped with a device to automatically lower and raise the baskets," the Department of Labor added.
Santonastasso Enterprises, which is owned by John and Kathleen Santonastasso, paid a penalty of $57,332 over the violations.
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In a statement to USA TODAY, John and Kathleen Santonastasso said: "We take our role as a local employer very seriously and we regret any scheduling issues that may have occurred at our restaurants.
"Our biggest priority is always the safety and well-being of our employees, and we have since instituted a series of new and enhanced processes and procedures to ensure employees are scheduled appropriately," they added.
McDonald's USA, the fast food chain's corporate office, told USA TODAY that "While franchisees make local decisions for their businesses, including around labor and employment practices, they must comply with all state and federal laws, and we expect them to uphold our values in everything they do."
From fiscal years 2017 to 2021, the Department of Labor identified child labor violations in over 4,000 cases, with over 13,000 children employed under violations.
In November, a Wisconsin industrial cleaning company was accused of illegally using child workers as young as 13 to clean meat processing plants in Minnesota and Nebraska.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pittsburgh-area McDonald's franchise accused of child labor violations