Two 10-year-old kids found working at a Louisville McDonald’s until 2 a.m.—for no pay - Fortune

The U.S. Department of Labor said on Tuesday that its investigators had discovered two 10-year-old children working in the kitchen at a Louisville McDonald’s restaurant.

They were employed—but not paid—by Bauer Food LLC, a Louisville-based operator of 10 McDonald’s locations, officials said, and sometimes worked as late as 2 a.m. preparing and distributing orders, cleaning the store, working the drive-thru window, and operating cash registers.

One of the two children was allowed to operate a deep fryer, which is banned by law for workers under the age of 16.

The two 10-year-olds were among 305 minors found to be working more than the legally permitted hours across 62 McDonald’s locations in Kentucky, Maryland, Indiana, and Ohio.

The restaurants were operated by three franchisees: Bauer Food, Archways Richwood LLC, and Bell Restaurant Group I LLC, according to the Labor Department.

The Labor Department found 688 minors employed illegally in hazardous occupations in 2022—the highest number since 2011. Among them was a 15-year-old who was injured while operating a deep fryer at a McDonald’s in Morristown, Tenn., in June.

The Labor Department’s investigation findings come as Republican lawmakers in several states are seeking to relax child labor laws.

On Wednesday, Iowa’s legislature passed a bill led by GOP lawmakers that would reduce child labor protections, including the limit on the number of hours teenagers in school are allowed to work. It would also allow minors to work in occupations they are currently not permitted to fill, such as meat processing, operating heavy machinery, and serving alcohol.

The bill would come into effect if signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has expressed support for the proposed changes.

Update: This bill was signed into law by Kim Reynolds on May 26, 2023

Lawmakers in Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin have also floated the possibility of easing laws around child labor.

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Locations: Kentucky Iowa 

Organizations: McDonalds Bauer Food Archways Richwood LLC Bell Restaurant Grooup I LLC 

People: Kim Reynolds 

Tags: Child Labor 

Type: Headlines