South Carolina Sonic Drive-Ins Penalized for Child Labor Violations

South Carolina Sonic Drive-Ins Penalized for Child Labor Violations

Operators face $61,012 in combined penalties.

Atlanta-based Atticus Franchise Group LLC and Columbia-based Boom Inc.—both operators of Sonic Drive-In locations—are facing significant child labor violations in South Carolina.

In a release dated August 22, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the results of an investigation by its Wage and Hour Division. Investigators discovered Atticus and Boom together employed 91 minors below 16 years of age beyond the hours permitted by law. They now face a combined total of just over $61,000 in penalties.

Between March 2021 and October 2022, Atticus—which manages 60 Sonic Drive-In locations, including eight in South Carolina—unlawfully employed 36 children aged between 14 and 15. Meanwhile, 3497 Beaufort Limited Partnership and its parent entity, Boom Inc., employed 55 minors in violation. The DOL assessed a $25,000 fine to Atticus and $36,012 fine to Boom.

Cited violations include having the minor employees work past 7 p.m. during school days, after 9 p.m. from June 1 to Labor Day, for over three hours on school days, more than eight hours on days without school and over 18 hours in a school week. All these actions are in direct violation of the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“Businesses that employ 14- and 15-year-olds must balance workplace experience with educational opportunities and be aware of the limits on these young workers’ job duties and hours,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Jamie Benefiel in Columbia, South Carolina, said in a statement. “Child labor regulations ensure young workers can gain valuable work experience without interfering with their education or endangering their safety.”

Both Atticus Franchise Group and Boom Inc. now have 15 business days to either comply with the penalties, request an informal discussion with the department, or challenge its findings.

About the Author

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

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