In Brief

Chipotle to pay almost $8M to resolve N.J. audit that found child labor law violations

By: - September 21, 2022 7:21 am

Chipotle, which has 85 eateries in N.J., will pay $7.75 million to settle over 30,000 allegations it violated child labor laws. (Photo by New Jersey Monitor)

Chipotle Mexican Grill has agreed to pay a $7.75 million settlement after the state Department of Labor found the fast-food chain violated child labor laws by scheduling minors to work longer than allowed and failing to give them enough breaks, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General announced Tuesday.

In a 2020 audit, state investigators identified about 30,660 violations impacting underage workers at Chipotle’s 85 locations statewide, the office said. The chain has agreed to comply with measures it developed with the Department of Labor to ensure it follows state child labor laws.

The settlement money will go to a fund the department maintains to enforce child labor laws and educate employers, employees, unions, teachers, and counselors about restrictions in place to protect children who work.

“New Jersey is committed to protecting all workers – especially young workers and others who are vulnerable and may not know their rights in the workplace,” acting Attorney General Matt Platkin said in a statement.

New Jersey labor laws restrict how many hours minors can work, depending on their age and whether it’s a school day or during the summer.

The audit — which covered 2017 to 2020 — was spurred by Chipotle’s history of child labor law violations here and elsewhere. New Jersey officials had cited Chipotle locations in Fort Lee, Bloomfield, Mays Landing, and Parsippany between 2016 to 2018 for child labor law violations. In Massachusetts, the chain agreed to pay $1.4 million in 2020 to resolve child labor and wage violations at more than 50 of its restaurants there.

Under the New Jersey settlement, the chain agreed to do periodic self-audits, designate a child labor compliance official, and mandate training for all staff on the state’s child labor protections.

“There is no excuse for any business, particularly a major, profitable corporation with prior violations, to continually deny young employees their work rights,” Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a statement.

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Dana DiFilippo
Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.