ERIE, PA – A federal investigation has found the franchise operator of seven McDonald’s locations in Erie and Warren illegally allowed 154 minors, ages 14- and 15-years-old, to work at times not permitted by child labor laws and for more hours per week than allowed. The employer also assigned nine workers under age 16 to operate deep fryers in violation of federal law.
U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigators determined that the Erie-based DuCharme Organization – operating as TBLN LLC – violated the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The DuCharme Organization and owner Thomas DuCharme Jr. paid $92,107 in civil money penalties for the violations.
Specifically, the division found the employer permitted the minors to work illegally as follows:
Before 7 a.m., more than 3 hours per day and after 7 p.m. on school days.
Later than 9 p.m. on days between June 1 and Labor Day, when they may legally work until 9 p.m.
More than 8 hours on a non-school day, and more than 18 hours a week during a regular school week.
Investigators also learned nine minors under the age of 16 were allowed to operate deep fryers at two of the employers’ locations in violation of federal regulations for occupational standards for 14- and 15-year-olds. Workers under the age of 16 are prohibited from using manual deep fryers not equipped with automatic fry baskets that move food into and out of cooking oil or grease.
“Since 2018, we have seen an alarming increase in the number of young workers employed in violation of federal child labor laws,” explained Wage and Hour District Director John DuMont in Pittsburgh. “Every employer who hires young workers must know when they can and cannot work, the types of jobs they can do and what tasks they can be safely assigned.”
From fiscal year 2018 to 2022, the department identified child labor violations in more than 4,000 cases, finding more than 15,000 minor-aged workers employed in violation.
“The bottom line is that there is no excuse for jeopardizing young workers’ safety or hindering their educational opportunities,” DuMont added. “Young workers, their parents and other stakeholders should use our online tools or contact the Wage and Hour Division for guidance, compliance assistance or other resources.”
The division’s investigation included the following locations and workers affected:
# of Workers
# of Workers
1115 Sassafras St.
4316 Buffalo Road
2065 Interchange Road
7200 Peach St.
903 Peninsula Drive
75 Market St.
2529 Broad St.
To help employers avoid child labor violations, the Wage and Hour Division published “Seven Child Best Practices for Employers” in 2022.
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, free and available in Spanish, to ensure hours and pay are accurate.
Learn more about the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor provisions.