Taco Bell franchise owner fined nearly $120,000 over teen worker violations

Credit: Joe Raedle

Credit: Joe Raedle

A Taco Bell franchise owner in Washington state may have to pay nearly $120,000 after being fined for violating teen worker laws at a half-dozen restaurants.

Six investigations were conducted over the last three years after multiple complaints from employees and their parents, the Washington Department of Labor and Industries told KIRO.

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Numerous violations were found at restaurants located in Marysville, Auburn and other locations, L&I officials said.

An investigation spanning January and February found 11 teens worked more than three hours without taking a break 59 times.

Nine others worked more than four hours without a break, L&I officials said.

The restaurant located in Marysville, along with an Auburn location, also reportedly failed to come up with parent-school authorization forms or show proof of age for the teen workers, officials said.

A citation totaling $70,000 was issued against both restaurants in June but the fine against the Marysville location is being appealed, L&I officials said.

"Teens are an important part of the workforce. We enforce these laws to prevent injuries and keep them safe on the job," said David Johnson, L&I employment standards program manager.

In 2015 and 2016, L&I officials said investigations of Taco Bell of America LLC locations resulted in violations at stores in Auburn, Tumwater, Woodland and Bonney Lake, and the company wound up paying fines totaling $49,450.

Training was provided to Taco Bell of America LLC restaurant managers and human resource staff during those investigations, officials said.

“Teens often don't know their workplace rights, so it's up to managers to follow the laws and emphasize safety on the job,” Johnson said.

L&I officials said they have requested a meeting with Taco Bell of America LLC to discuss changes in the company’s youth employment practices.

The group owns about 60 restaurants in Washington state.

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