- A North Carolina Chick-fil-A owner owes back pay to people who worked for food vouchers.
- The Department of Labor is also fining the owner more than $6,000 for child labor law violations.
- Minors are only allowed to do some tasks and work only limited hours in fast food.
A Chick-fil-A in North Carolina has been ordered by the US Department of Labor to issue paychecks to workers who were paid in chicken meals instead of actual money.
The restaurant sparked criticism after it posted a now-deleted message on its public Facebook page in July that appeared to ask people to work for food — in the form of Chick-fil-A entrees — instead of money.
“We are looking for volunteers for our new Drive Thru Express! Earn 5 free entrees per shift (1 hr) worked,” the post read. “Message us for details.”
By the afternoon of July 27, the post was apparently deleted.
Chick-fil-A’s corporate office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the Labor Department ruling, but the company previously said that it did not endorse the program.
“Most restaurants are individually owned and operated, and it was a program at an individually owned restaurant,” a Chick-fil-A spokesperson said in July. Joel Benson, the franchise owner, didn’t return Insider’s request for comment about the most recent fine or about the July incident.
The restaurant was ordered this week by the Labor Department to pay $235 in back wages to seven employees who worked directing drive-thru traffic in exchange for meal vouchers. Having the workers do so was a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Labor Department said.
“Employers are responsible to pay workers for all of the hours worked and the payment must be made in cash or legal tender,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Richard Blaylock said in a statement for the Labor Department.
Separately, the Labor Department said the Hendersonville, North Carolina, restaurant owes $6,450 in civil penalties over child labor violations. The department said the restaurant allowed three minors to operate a trash compactor, which violates federal labor law.
Fast-food chains historically rely on teenagers to staff locations, especially amidst a shortage of other workers. Workers under 18 are governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act on what jobs the can do and which hours they can work, with additional restrictions for workers under 16.
The Department of Labor has pursued a number of other child labor cases in fast food recently: In August, a Tampa, Florida, Chick-fil-A franchisee was fined more than $12 million for scheduling 14 and 15-year-old workers outside of legally permitted hours. In early December, a Pennsylvania McDonald’s franchisee was fined almost $60,000 for violations including 101 young teen workers across 13 locations.
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