Ever satisfied a late-night burrito craving at Qdoba? Here’s some bad news: While you may have gotten free queso and guac, you also may have been served by a teen working illegal overtime.
Last March, a minor filed a complaint with the state attorney general, claiming that she had worked too late into the evening at a Newton location of the fast-casual Mexican chain. Turns out, she wasn’t the only one—the complaint led to a state-wide investigation and later, the “largest” child labor citation in the history of the state attorney general’s office.
Attorney General Maura Healey cited Qdoba a whopping $409,400 for “routine” violations of child labor laws across the state, according to a release. Healey’s office audited all 22 Qdobas in Mass., which revealed thousands of violations, including minors working too many hours and too late in the evening.
Under state law, children under 18 cannot work more than nine hours in a day or 48 hours in a week. On school nights, 14- and 15-year-olds cannot work later than 7 p.m., and 16- and 17-year-olds cannot work later than 10 p.m. Employers must also have work permits on file for all employees under 18.
Qdoba managed to break every single one of these rules, multiple times. Investigators uncovered nearly 200 instances in which a minor worked over 11 hours in a shift, and 18 instances of minors working more than 48 hours in a week. There were 1,000 instances of minors working later than 10:30 p.m., and 25 occasions in which Qdoba failed to obtain work permits before hiring minors.
Each violation cost Qdoba $250, the maximum penalty for first-time child labor law offenders.
“A young worker’s first job is critical in teaching them about workplace rules, responsibility, and safety,” Healey says in the release. “We remain committed to ensuring that employers understand and follow the rights of all workers across Massachusetts.”
Qdoba did not immediate respond to a request for comment.
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