The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) and the Attorney General’s Office announced a $7.75 million settlement with Chipotle Mexican Grill Sept. 20 to resolve alleged violations of the state’s child labor laws.
In addition to the financial penalty, Chipotle agreed to a comprehensive compliance plan for its 85 New Jersey locations to put an end to the practices in question.
In 2020, an NJDOL audit revealed more than 30,000 alleged violations impacting minors at Chipotle locations across the state, including failure to abide by limits on the number of hours minors are allowed to work and failure to provide those workers timely and sufficient meal breaks.
According to NJDOL and Platkin, the review was spurred by Chipotle’s history of labor violations here in New Jersey, as well as in other states. Four Chipotle locations – Fort Lee, Bloomfield, Mays Landing and Parsippany – were cited for Child Labor Law Violations from 2016-2018.
In announcing the “historic” settlement, the NJDOL said that Chipotle has cooperated to develop and implement measures to monitor future compliance and signed an agreement this week to memorialize those terms.
All monies received from the settlement go toward the NJDOL’s Child Labor Law Enforcement Trust Fund, which is used to enforce laws protecting children in the workplace and to educate employers, employer organizations, employees, unions, teachers, counselors and other professionals engaged in work involving minors.
“This record settlement represents a significant public-private partnership aimed at protecting minors from workplace abuses,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “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.”
As part of the settlement, Chipotle’s future compliance efforts will include periodic self-audits; designating a child labor compliance official; and mandatory formal training for all current and future managers, supervisors and staff members to raise awareness about New Jersey’s child labor protections.
“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,” Laurie Schalow, chief corporate affairs officer, Chipotle Mexican Grill, said in a statement to NJBIZ. “We have reached a settlement with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General for the events dating back to 2017 and have implemented an enhanced labor scheduling program in our restaurants, creating a more efficient, consistent and compliant environment.”
“New Jersey is committed to protecting all workers — especially young workers and others who are vulnerable and may not know their rights in the workplace,” said acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin. “This historic settlement is just one result of the investments we have made throughout the Murphy Administration to proactively enforce our worker protection laws, and it should serve as a message to every employer that if you exploit your workers, you will be held accountable.”
“It makes good business sense to treat all workers, particularly minors, fairly and in accordance with the law,” Asaro-Angelo added. “There is no excuse for any business, particularly a major, profitable corporation with prior violations, to continually deny young employees their work rights.”