Federal investigators uncovered child labor violations involving 23 Dairy Queen employees under 18 at four of the fast food chain’s locations in New Jersey, officials said.
Several 15-year-old employees at the New Jersey Dairy Queen restaurants were found working too long and too late — including until 10 p.m. during the school year — in violation of federal regulations in place for minor workers, the U.S. Department of Labor announced in an Oct. 30 news release.
This occurred at franchise locations in Rutherford, West Milford, Emerson and Belmar, according to officials.
As a result, the Department of Labor fined Konstantine Menegatos, the franchisee in charge of the four locations, $14,006 after an investigation led by the agency’s Wage and Hour Division, the release said.
McClatchy News contacted Dairy Queen for comment on Oct. 30 and didn’t receive an immediate response. Direct contact information for Menegatos wasn’t immediately available on Oct. 30.
In addition to working until 10 p.m. when school was in session, federal investigators learned 15-year-olds worked longer than three hours on a school day and longer than 18 hours during a school week — which is prohibited, according to the Department of Labor.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees who are 14 and 15 are only allowed to work until 7 p.m. during the school week and can work until 9 p.m. during the summer.
When school is out of session, these young workers can only work up to eight hours a day and no longer than 40 hours in a week, according to the law.
“Fast food franchises like Dairy Queen offer minor-aged workers valuable work experience, but federal law ensures that experience does not come at the expense of a young worker’s education or related activities,” Wage and Hour Division district director Paula Ruffin in Mountainside, New Jersey, said in a statement.
Separate from the child labor violations, Menegatos is also accused of wage violations at the four Dairy Queen restaurants, according to the Department of Labor.
One Dairy Queen employee wasn’t paid minimum wage while 14 others weren’t paid “the required time-and-a-half overtime premium for hours over 40 each workweek,” the release said.
Menegatos was ordered to pay the 15 employees $9,764 in back wages, according to officials.