A popular Mexican-style fast food chain is facing more than $400,000 in fines for over 1,000 child labor law violations in Massachusetts.
Qdoba has been cited $409,400 in penalties at its 22 corporate-owned Massachusetts locations, Attorney General Maura Healey announced. Her office began investigating after receiving a complaint last year from a minor who worked at Qdoba who said she had worked late into the night at a Qdoba location in Newton.
A review of company records showed that minors were routinely working in violation of child labor laws, the attorney general's office said. An audit of all of the Massachusetts locations showed thousands of violations, including minors working too late into the evening and working too many hours per shift.
Under state 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.
Investigators at the attorney general'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, 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 attorney general's investigation began.
"A young worker’s first job is critical in teaching them about workplace rules, responsibility, and safety," Healey said in a statement. "We remain committed to ensuring that employers understand and follow the rights of all workers across Massachusetts."
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Qdoba's corporate office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.