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Phoenix McDonald's fined for child labor violations

A McDonald's franchise owner in Baltimore County must pay nearly $30,500 in back wages and child labor penalties because he failed to pay overtime and broke child labor laws, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The department reported that Bill Taylor, president of B&D; Taylor Inc., which owns the McDonald's on Sweet Air Road in Phoenix, has paid $20,502.05 in back wages to five workers, two of whom are still in his employ. The workers were not compensated for overtime hours, federal officials said. The company will also pay $9,990 in penalties for violating restrictions on the hours minors can work and tasks they can perform, officials said. Taylor could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Joanna P. Hawkins, deputy regional director at the U.S. Department of Labor offices in Philadelphia, said an investigation found 14- and 15-year-old employees working longer than three hours on a school day and working late into the evening. The cutoff for those workers is 7 p.m. during the school year and 9 p.m. during the summer, Hawkins said.

A release from the department also said the fast-food restaurant violated safety standards by allowing nine minors to operate a deep fryer, a task that is prohibited by child labor laws. The restaurant's manually operated fryer requires the employees to cook baskets of food in hot oil, according to the department.

"All of the minors that utilized the fryer did so at the direction of various store managers as well as senior staff members and on a regular and recurring basis," Hawkins said.

Minors may not work more than three hours on school days, eight hours on non-school days and no more than 18 hours in school weeks or 40 hours during non-school weeks, according to labor laws.

During the probe, investigators with the department's Wage and Hour Division also found that restaurant employees were paid straight time, rather than overtime, for time worked in excess of a 40-hour week.

Federal law requires employers to pay at least the federal minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour, for a standard 40-hour week, as well as 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for hours in excess of that standard. The law requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment.

"Fast food restaurants like McDonald's have a legal responsibility to properly compensate workers, as well as ensure that any employed minors work appropriate hours in allowable occupations," said John Kelly, acting director of the Wage and Hour Division's Baltimore District Office, in a press release Tuesday.

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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