By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,

After an investigation into allegations of D.C. child labor law violations, Chipotle Mexican Grill (Chipotle) has agreed to pay the city $322,400 and institute a new training and workplace compliance plan. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) reportedly determined hundreds of instances of minors working more hours than the legal cap at the fast-casual chain. 

Chipotle, which operates 20 restaurants in D.C., settled similar allegations with the state of New Jersey and Massachusetts in previous years. 

“This outcome continues the OAG’s proven track record of enforcing D.C.’s labor protections to the fullest extent of the law,” said Attorney General Brian Schwalb. “We will put this settlement to good use by helping connect District youth with apprenticeships and workforce training opportunities, building on our efforts to ensure that all young people in the District have the chance to thrive and succeed.”

In D.C., child labor laws prevent minors from working more than six consecutive days in a week, more than eight hours in a day and more than 48 hours in one week, according to the Code of the District of Columbia. 

Those aged 16 or 17 are also unable to work before 6 a.m. and after 10 p.m. on any day. Those under 16 cannot work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on any day, except for during the summer when the evening cutoff is 9 p.m. 

The OAG began investigating Chipotle in the spring of 2022 after other states and cities alleged that the chain was violating local child labor laws. Over the course of its investigation, the agency determined more than 800 potential violations, according to a release from the OAG.

“We are committed to ensuring that our restaurants are in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and we believe that in hiring workers beginning at age 16, we can provide younger employees with valuable experiences and an opportunity for advancement,” said Laurie Schalow, chief corporate affairs officer for Chipotle Mexican Grill. “We have reached a settlement with the Washington, D.C. Office of the Attorney General for events dating back to 2020 and have implemented an enhanced labor scheduling program in our restaurants, creating a more efficient, consistent and compliant environment.” 

In the settlement, Chipotle denied the allegations of child labor law violations but committed itself to enacting new processes to ensure its compliance. 

Chipotle’s agreement with the District includes providing general managers and supervisors with documented training on D.C. child labor laws within six months of their hiring or promotion and providing minors with a copy of the District’s labor policy during their onboarding. 

“Chipotle gives workers, including younger employees, industry-leading benefits such as debt-free degrees, tuition reimbursement up to $5,250 per year, access to mental healthcare, financial planning tools, and the opportunity for quarterly bonuses for all employees, including hourly crew members, up to a month’s worth of pay per year,” said Schalow. “We also provide transparent career progression showing how Chipotle crew members can advance to a Restaurateur, the highest general manager position, in as little as three and a half years, with a total potential compensation package of approximately $100,000 while leading a multi-million-dollar growing business.”

Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.

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