Hwy 55 Restaurant Chain Fined for Child Labor Violations

Hwy 55 Restaurant Chain Fined for Child Labor Violations

The Little Mint, which owns multiple Hwy 55 restaurants, employed minors beyond permitted hours and assigned them tasks prohibited by law.

The Little Mint Inc.—which owns 20 Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries restaurants—has entered an enhanced compliance agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), following an investigation that found the company in violation of child labor laws.

According to a release dated Mar. 6, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division investigation revealed that The Little Mint employed 13 minors past 7 p.m. between Labor Day and June 1 and that these young workers put in more than three hours on school days. In one instance, a 15-year-old was found operating manual fryers, a task strictly prohibited for employees under 16. These actions are breaches of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

As a result, the agency fined the company $11,453 for these violations. The Little Mint has committed to several corrective measures across its establishments in Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. These measures include prohibiting the employment of 14- and 15-year-olds outside legally allowed hours and in cooking roles, annual manager reviews of child labor laws and quarterly checks of minor employees' time records.

“Employers must never jeopardize the safety and well-being of young workers or interfere with their education. While learning new skills in the workforce is an important part of growing up, children must be protected from workplace hazards. That protection is an employer’s obligation,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Lisa Kelly in Nashville said in a statement. “The Fair Labor Standards Act allows for appropriate work opportunities for young people but includes important restrictions on their work hours and job duties to keep kids safe.” 

Based in Mt. Olive, North Carolina, The Little Mint Inc. employs nearly 160 workers across its locations. This incident comes amid a broader crackdown on child labor violations, with the Wage and Hour Division reporting over 950 violations in the last fiscal year, leading to over $8 million in penalties.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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