Chipotle and the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) reached an agreement yesterday which will find the fast-casual chain coughing up $7.75 million in penalties. A 2017-2020 NJDOL audit found 30,660 alleged violations to state child labor laws.
“This record settlement represents a significant public-private partnership aimed at protecting minors from workplace abuses,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo, whose agency led the investigation in close collaboration with the Affirmative Civil Rights and Labor Enforcement Section of the Department of Public Safety’s Division of Law. “After-school and summer employment can be of tremendous value to both the young worker and the employer, but these jobs cannot come at the expense of treating employees fairly.”
Most of the violations consisted of inadequate and untimely meal breaks, as well as a failure to comply with the number of hours a minor is allowed to work.
The audit was born out of Chipotle’s recent history of not following child labor laws in New Jersey and other states. Between 2016 and 2018, violations were found in Bloomfield, Mays Landing, Fort Lee, and Parsippany. In 2020, the company had to pay out $1.4 million in restitution and penalties for child labor violations in over 50 locations in Massachusetts.
Now, having been sufficiently thrashed, the company has made sure that the possibility of future violations will be curtailed by its new long-term strategy that involves periodic self-audits and the designation of a child labor compliance official, among others.
In the end, all monies paid in penalty will go into the NJDOL’s Child Labor Law Enforcement Trust Fund, which exists to protect and advocate for minors in the workplace. The fund also helps with enforcement and education of employers.