Pittsburgh McDonald's Are Being Accused Of Violating Child Labor Laws

When you first read the headline, you may be wondering what McDonald's and the violation of child labor laws have to do with each other. Was McDonald's using little kids to clean the Playplace jungle gyms to save a couple bucks? Were they having second and third-graders flip hamburgers in exchange for free Happy Meals? While these ideas may be amusing, they aren't at all what we mean. Instead, it's more about how long underage employees are allowed to work and how certain McDonald's in the Pittsburgh area tried to skirt around these rules.

According to The Washington Post, 13 McDonald's operated by Waynesburg-based Santonastasso Enterprises have been accused of allowing over 100 underage employees between the ages of 14 and 15 to work more than the legal hours set for them. For example, the United States Department of Labor clearly states that underage employees are not allowed to work more than 18 hours a week on school weeks, and investigators from that same department are alleging these McDonald's locations have violated said rule. The Washington Post also reported that, in addition to having young employees work far beyond the legally-permitted hours, some were allowed to bypass safety laws and operate equipment such as fryers without safety equipment. 

But how did the accused Santonastasso Enterprises react to these shocking allegations? Even more shocking is the claim that these Pittsburgh McDonald's locations aren't the only ones to have come under fire for disregarding labor laws.

Santonastasso Enterprises announced it would reexamine its location's policies

Pittsburgh-based Santonastasso Enterprises seem to be a relatively successful business, especially in the local community. Recently, owner-operator John Santonastasso gave a presentation regarding good business practices in the drive-thru at an office summit in late October 2022 (via Facebook), so it's not as if the company is too small or mismanaged to not understand labor laws. When the claims that its McDonald's locations had been accused of violating child labor laws, the company made a press statement through McDonald's regarding its plans of action (via CBS News).

"We take our role as a local employer very seriously and we regret any scheduling issues that may have occurred at our restaurants," the Santonastassos' message states. "Our biggest priority is always the safety and well-being of our employees and we have since instituted a series of new and enhanced processes and procedures to ensure employees are scheduled appropriately."

While Santonastasso Enterprises seems to be handling the issue, this actually isn't the first time McDonald's has been called out for supposedly violating child labor laws. Several McDonald's locations in Santa Ana were investigated for similar claims of having underage employees perform unpermitted and hazardous work such as operating trash compactors in February 2022 (via The United States Department of Labor). 

Further action on Santonastasso Enterprises and its McDonald's locations is yet to be seen.