COLUMBIA, SC – Operators of four well-known fast food restaurant locations illegally employed workers under the age of 18 at hours and in occupations that jeopardized their safety, a series of investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor has found.

Part of a cross-regional food services initiative in the Southeast by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, the investigations identified violations by operators of Subway, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Burger King and Frodo’s Pizza locations across the state.

“Restaurant industry employers must understand and comply with child labor laws concerning hours and occupations,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Jamie Benefiel in Columbia, South Carolina. “Child labor laws exists to ensure that young workers gain valuable workplace experience, but not at the expense of their education or safety. Industry employers, workers and their parents should contact us with their questions about youth employment laws. The kinds of violations found in these South Carolina investigations – and the penalties associated with them – could have been avoided.”

Investigators found the following violations of the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act:

Subway:

Harvey Restaurant Co., operator of two Greenville locations and two in Travelers Rest, allowed 13 minor employees between the ages of 14 and 15 to work past 9 p.m. during summer months. The division assessed the employer a $4,491 civil money penalty.
Pleasantway Inc., operator of two Greenville locations and one in Greer, allowed five 15-year-old employees to work past 7 p.m. between Labor Day and June 1. Four of these minors were also employed in prohibited baking activities. The division assessed the employer a $4,902 civil money penalty.

Burger King:

Carolina Franchise Holdings LLC, operator of 36 Burger King franchise locations in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, allowed two 15-year-old employees to work more than 18 hours per week during school weeks at a Newberry location. The division assessed the employer a $1,382 civil money penalty.

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen:

PLC Dev Group LLC, operator of nine franchises in South Carolina and one in North Carolina, allowed three 15-year-old employees to work more than 18 hours per week during school weeks at South Carolina establishments in Seneca, Columbia and Mauldin. The division assessed the employer a $2,073 civil money penalty. Investigators also determined that PLC Dev Group clocked out some employees automatically, while they continued to perform work. The division recovered $2,031 in overtime back wages and liquidated damages for nine workers at South Carolina locations in Anderson, Boiling Springs, Columbia, Mauldin and Greer.

Frodo’s Pizza:

FPI Inc., operator of a Greenville location, allowed three 16-year-old employees to work as delivery drivers. Federal law prohibits minors from operating motor vehicles as part of their occupation. The division assessed the employer a $3,006 civil money penalty.

In fiscal years 2020 and 2021, the Wage and Hour Division’s Southeast region found child labor violations in more than 190 food service employers investigated, resulting in more than $1 million in penalties assessed to employers.

The Southeast Region is hosting a lunch and learn webinar, Feb. 10 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. EST. This event provides an opportunity for participants to learn more about federal laws governing youth employment. Participation is free, but registration is required. Get information about protections for young workers on the department’s YouthRules! website. 

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s 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.

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