Large, Well-known Massachusetts Franchisees Face Recent Labor Violations

August 2023 • Source: Michael "Maz" Mazurczak, Melick & Porter, LLP

Over the past three months, two national brands have paid large settlements to workers for labor violations at various Massachusetts locations. First, two Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees, located in central and southeastern Massachusetts, were fined a collective $370,000 for child labor violations. After a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office alleging that the locations were in violation of M.G.L c. 149, investigators uncovered over one thousand instances of violations of child labor statutes.

Between the two locations, the violations included employing minors after 8:00 P.M. without adult supervision, employment of 16- or 17-year-olds for more than nine hours a day, employment of minors earlier than 6:00 A.M., and failing to obtain valid work permits. Since January of 2022, the AG’s Office has issued 32 citations against various Dunkin’ franchisees, the majority being related to child labor violations. In sum, the violations have totaled over $560,000.

Similarly, in June, Dave & Buster’s was cited for breaking similar Massachusetts labor laws surrounding meal breaks and child labor, leading to it paying $275,000 in settlement to over 800 aggrieved employees. The violations came following a parent’s complaint to the AG’s office after their child was denied meal breaks and forced to work past midnight on a weekend.

What does this mean? With such well-known brands making news headlines and paying large settlement amounts over a few months span, it would not be surprising to see parents of young workers continue to file complaints with the AG’s Office and look to “cash-in.”  Employers must remain aware that, in Massachusetts, employees are required to receive a 30-minute meal break (where they can leave the premises) if his/her shift is longer than six hours. Further, on school nights, 16- and 17-year-olds may not work past 10 P.M. Employers must remain vigilant of these, along with the rest of Massachusetts child labor laws, which can be found summarized at the link below: