Chipotle Mexican Grill has agreed to pay Washington, D.C., $322,400 in a settlement following allegations that the fast-food chain has violated the district’s child labor laws, Washington, D.C. Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb announced Monday.
Mr. Schwalb’s office launched an investigation in May 2022 that found over 800 potential violations of child labor laws in Chipotle restaurants in the city since April 2020.
Chipotle was accused of allowing employees under the age of 18 to work after 10:00 p.m., more than eight hours a day, more than 48 hours in a week, or more than six consecutive days a week.
In addition to paying the settlement fee of over $300,000, Chipotle is required to adopt a new, “comprehensive training and workplace compliance plan” to prevent future contraventions, according to prosecutors.
The company will provide training to all restaurant managers and supervisors in the district and have store managers review child labor laws with all new hires.
“We applaud young people who take the initiative to work in addition to going to school. But the law limits the hours they can work to ensure they are healthy, well-rested, and able to fulfill their responsibilities as students and to their families,” Mr. Schwalb said in a statement.
The D.C. attorney general added that part of the settlement money will support a “Youth Employment Opportunities Grant” to provide local youth with job training and workforce skills development.
“We will put this settlement to good use by helping connect district youth with apprenticeships and workforce training opportunities, building on our efforts to ensure that all young people in the district have the chance to thrive and succeed,” he said.
While Chipotle has agreed to the settlement amount and compliance plan, the firm maintains its stance of innocence and denies allegations regarding violations of any child labor laws, according to the settlement.
“Nothing contained in this Settlement Agreement is or may be construed to be an admission by the Company of any violation of law or regulation, any other matter of fact or law, or any liability or wrongdoing,” the settlement states.
In a statement to The Hill, Laurie Schalow, Chipotle’s chief corporate affairs officer, said the company is committed to complying with applicable laws and has since implemented an “enhanced labor scheduling program” in restaurants.
“We are committed to ensuring that our restaurants are in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and we believe that in hiring workers beginning at age 16, we can provide younger employees with valuable experiences and an opportunity for advancement,” Schalow said in the statement.
“We have reached a settlement with the Washington, D.C. Office of the Attorney General for the events dating back to 2020, and have implemented an enhanced labor scheduling program in our restaurants, creating a more efficient, consistent and compliant environment,” she added.
This is not the first time that Chipotle has been caught violating child labor laws. The company was previously fined $1.37 million in 2020 for an estimated 13,253 alleged violations of Massachusetts child labor laws. Last September, Chipotle had to pay a $7.75 million settlement to New Jersey for 30,660 alleged violations impacting minors during the period 2017–20. The settlement allows Chipotle to forgo admitting to any of the state’s claims.