Editor's Note - Qdoba Restaurant Corporation operates a restaurant on the Cranberry Highway in Wareham.
BOSTON – Qdoba Restaurant Corporation has been cited $409,400 in penalties for more than 1,000 child labor law violations at its 22 corporate-owned locations in Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The AG’s Office began investigating Qdoba after receiving a complaint from a minor employee in March 2018 alleging that she had worked late into the evening at a Newton Qdoba location. A review of Qdoba’s records revealed that minors routinely worked in violation of the law. An audit of all 22 Massachusetts Qdoba locations showed thousands of violations including minors working too late into the evening and too many hours per shift.
“A young worker’s first job is critical in teaching them about workplace rules, responsibility, and safety,” said AG Healey. “We remain committed to ensuring that employers understand and follow the rights of all workers across Massachusetts.”
Investigators at the AG’s Office found almost 200 instances in which a minor worked more than 11 hours in a single shift at Qdoba, and 18 instances of minors working more than 48 hours in a week. Additionally, investigators allege Qdoba’s records show more than 1,000 instances of a minor working later than 10:30 p.m. on a night preceding a school day. On more than 25 occasions, Qdoba also failed to obtain work permits prior to hiring minor employees.
The citations include a penalty of $250 for each violation, which is the maximum penalty allowed for first-time violators of the child labor statute. The company continued to violate the law into May 2019, more than a year after the investigation began.
AG Healey’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing state laws regulating the payment of wages, including prevailing wage, minimum wage, overtime, and earned sick time laws. Under Massachusetts law, children under 18 may not work more than nine hours in a day or more than 48 hours in a week. Fourteen- and 15-year-old children may not work later than 7 p.m., and 16- and 17-year-old children may not work later than 10 p.m., on a night preceding a school day. State law also requires employers to have work permits on file for all workers under 18 years of age.
In the last fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, the AG’s Office issued 41 citations for child labor law violations, many of which occurred at businesses in the restaurant industry, totaling $487,050 in penalties.
Workers who believe that their rights have been violated in their workplace are encouraged to file a complaint at www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor. For information about the state’s wage and hour laws, workers may call the Office’s Fair Labor Hotline at (617) 727-3465 or go to the Attorney General’s new Workplace Rights website www.mass.gov/ago/fairlabor for materials in multiple languages.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Meryum Khan and Investigator Kevin Shanahan, both of the AG’s Fair Labor Division.