The Disturbing Reason McDonald's Owes The Department Of Labor $25,000

To little surprise, fast food giant McDonald's has been involved in countless scandals over the years. In 2020 alone, McDonald's found itself in hot water numerous times over some pretty big controversies, including incidents of racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and dangerous food mishaps (via Eat This, Not That).

And these controversies don't come cheap, either. According to Nation's Restaurant News, McDonald's paid a $26 million settlement to employees after losing a 2013 lawsuit over wage theft. The chain paid another $33.5 million to a franchise owner in 2021 to end a lawsuit over racial discrimination (via ABC News).

However, this is not to say that the smaller payouts are any less serious in nature. McDonald's latest slap on the wrist may be only for the amount of $25,000, but the business practices behind it are inarguably a concern for human rights. And this time we aren't talking about fair employee wages

A California McDonald's violated child labor laws

Although children as young as 14 may be employed, the Department of Labor prohibits those under 18 from working in dangerous — or potentially dangerous — conditions. For example, a 16 year old fast food employee may not be allowed to handle knives or use the grill.

Despite the Fair Labor Standards Act, a McDonald's franchise in California allowed minors to operate a trash compactor. To put this into perspective, as recently as 2021, a worker was killed after falling into a trash compactor (via Occupational Safety and Health Administration). With 18 underage employees found working in these potentially "hazardous" conditions, McDonald's owes $25,920 in fines, says a DOL press release.

According to Business Insider, these kinds of violations can initially cost up to $11,000 each, but can increase to $100,000 if repeated. Needless to say, child labor fines can pile up fast. Even though fast food chains nationwide are desperate for employees, hiring minors for dangerous tasks probably isn't the best way to go.