BOSTON – Not keeping track of how many hours employees under age 16 worked and allowing some to operate a dangerous machine has proved costly for the Berkley, Massachusetts-based operator of 18 Dunkin’ franchise locations in Bristol, Norfolk and Plymouth counties after a U.S. Department Labor investigation.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division learned that Fernando Sardinha, the Dunkin’ franchisee, and his businesses allowed 21 workers, ages 14- and 15-years-old, to work more hours than federal law allows at 12 locations in Assonet, Berkley, Hanover, Marion, Mattapoisett, Middleboro and Weymouth. The division also determined that the employer permitted three employees under age 16 at the Wareham Street location in Middleboro to operate an oven used to make sandwiches, which is a hazardous occupation for young workers.

The division assessed Sardinha and his businesses with $20,121 in civil money penalties to resolve their  violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor provisions. As part of a settlement agreement, the employers agreed to the following to ensure future FLSA compliance at all of their businesses’ locations:

Not employ minors under 14 years of age.
Create an internal policy to comply with child labor hours standards.
Provide color-coded stickers for name tags to identify minor-aged employees.
Conduct child labor training sessions with supervisors and managers upon hire and provide them with child labor publications.
Provide all employees under the age of 18 with child labor publications.
Instruct workers under 18 to adhere to child labor laws.
Institute a disciplinary procedure for supervisors and managers who allow federal child labor violations.
Appoint a child labor compliance director.
Spot-check timesheets to ensure that stores are compliant with child labor laws.
Post Regulation 3 Child Labor Hours Standards in a conspicuous place at each location.
“The Fair Labor Standard Act’s child labor provisions limit the employment of 14- and 15-year-olds to those jobs and time periods that the Secretary of Labor has determined will not interfere with their schooling and to conditions which will not pose hazards to their health and well-being,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Carlos Matos in Boston.

“We encourage employers and young workers and their parents and caregivers to review federal child labor laws to understand employers’ legal obligations and minor-aged workers’ rights and protections,” added Matos. “The Wage and Hour Division offers many online tools and is ready to answer questions to ensure young workers are kept safe and paid fully and assist employers in avoiding the costly consequences that often follow violations.”

Federal labor law prohibits the employment of workers under the age of 14 in non-agricultural settings. At ages 14 and 15, workers must be employed outside of school hours and cannot work:

More than 3 hours on a school day, including Friday.
More than 18 hours per week when school is in session.
More than 8 hours per day when school is not in session.
More than 40 hours per week when school is not in session.
Before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on any day, except from June 1 through Labor Day, when nighttime work hours are extended to 9 p.m.
This investigation identified numerous instances where 14- and 15-year-old employees worked more than three hours on a school day and past 7 p.m. during the school year. At the Wareham Street store in Middleboro, the investigation found youths working more than 8 hours per day and more than 40 hours per week during a non-school week.

The Wage and Hour Division found more than 3,800 minors employed in violation of child labor laws in fiscal year 2022, an increase of 37 percent over the previous year. The rise follows the addition of more young workers to the workforce during and after the pandemic. To help employers avoid child labor violations, the Wage and Hour Division has published Seven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers. Learn more about the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor provisions.

The division’s Northeast Region is offering free webinars for employers, parents, and young workers to learn more about the FLSA’s youth employment protections. Attendance is free, but registration is required for the following upcoming events:

Register to attend the May 9 webinar for employers.

Register to attend the May 11 webinar for parent/guardians, educators, and young workers.

For more information about young workers’ rights and other employee rights enforced by the division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. The division protects workers regardless of where they are from and can communicate with workers in more than 200 languages. Download the agency’s Timesheet App, now available for Android devices, to ensure hours and pay are accurate.

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