Chipotle has agreed to pay the state of New Jersey $7.75 million for thousands of violations of state labor laws that are supposed to protect children.
Under the terms of the settlement announced Tuesday, Chipotle will require training for managers on the state’s child labor laws. Additionally, the company named a child labor compliance official and said it will audit its own practices, according to New Jersey state officials.
“After-school and summer employment can be of tremendous value to both the young worker and the employer, but these jobs cannot come at the expense of treating employees fairly,” New Jersey Labor Department Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a statement.
The settlement arises from a 2020 audit of Chipotle by the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. It found more than 30,000 alleged violations of child labor laws across the state –notably that minors were working too many hours and not given enough meal breaks, state officials said.
“This is a substantial amount of money” said Ruth Milkman, a sociology professor of labor at CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, “but it has to be evaluated in relation to the resources of the company, in which context it might be considered as the ‘cost of doing business.”
“On the other hand a company like Chipotle is always concerned about its public image, and that is surely impacted by this series of events,” she added.
Under New Jersey law, 14 and 15-year-olds can work up to 40-hours a week when school is out of session, with 30-minute meal breaks after five hours of work. They’re allowed to work up to 18-hours a week during school months. Sixteen and 17-year-olds can work up to 40 hours a week with 30-minute meal breaks year round.
In August, the company agreed to pay $20 million to 13,000 workers for violations of New York City’s Fair Workweek Law, which prohibits sudden schedule changes, as well as violations of Paid Sick Leave laws.
Despite that settlement, THE CITY reported this week many workers describe the same types of sudden schedule changes.
The New York City Council is considering a new bill that would ramp up pressure on companies that continue to violate the law by potentially revoking their Health Department licenses.
Chipotle didn’t admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement. Laurie Schalow, a spokesperson for the company, said they’re committed to complying with the law. “We believe that in hiring workers beginning at age 16, we can provide younger employees with valuable experiences and an opportunity for advancement.”