Last month, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. agreed to pay New Jersey $7.7 million to settle claims that the restaurant chain violated child labor laws at franchise locations throughout the state.
The settlement stems from a New Jersey Department of Labor audit from 2020 that found more than 30,000 violations related to minors employed at Chipotle restaurants. According to the Labor Department, Chipotle failed to comply with several New Jersey Child Labor Law regulations (N.J.S.A. 34:2-21.1 to -21.22a), including:
- Violating prohibitions against minors working between 11pm and 6am, over 8 hours per day / 40 hours per week, and more than 6 consecutive days.
- Failing to provide minors a minimum 30-minute meal break after five hours worked.
- Failing to keep an employment certificate and records for all employed minors.
As part of the settlement agreement, Chipotle will also create a compliance plan to ensure its franchises adhere to state labor laws regarding employed minors. This includes steps to:
- Self-audit its compliance with NJ labor laws and report violations
- Train Managers on minor labor policy
- Designate a Child Labor Compliance Officer
- Maintain an electronic timekeeping / scheduling system that identifies minor employees
Minors and Labor Law Rights
Chipotle’s “groundbreaking” settlement is a testament to the strength of child labor laws and the broad protections afforded to minors who work and earn wages. These protections – including those under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) – are intended to ensure that minors prioritize education over employment and that they do not work jobs detrimental to their health and safety.
Minor workers are also protected under New Jersey law, which enforces regulations regarding the occupations and number of hours minors can work and entitles minor workers to mandatory meal breaks and extra compensation when illegally employed.
In addition to wage and hour protections, minors in New Jersey are also entitled to workers’ compensation when they suffer injuries in the course of their employment. In fact, the New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Act entitles minors who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses to the same benefits and protections as adult employees – including medical treatment, temporary disability, and permanency benefits. However, the Workers’ Compensation Act also provides them with the right of electing to file a negligence action against their employers instead of a workers’ compensation claim and recover pain and suffering damages.
At Levinson Axelrod, P.A., we have fought for injured workers across New Jersey since 1939 and have helped numerous minors recover workers’ compensation benefits following work-related accidents. If you have questions about pursuing a workers’ compensation case as a minor, we’re available to help. Call (732) 440-3089 or contact us online for a free consultation.