BOJ of WNC LLC worked children longer than allowed legally, assigned dangerous tasks

Boj of WNC LLC, the largest Bojangles Chicken franchisee, has a store in Tennessee that has a foot in the hot grease, if you will.

Recently, the Bojangles location at the Powell TN location got into trouble with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) after violating federal labor laws by overworking 13 children by allowing them to work after 7 p.m. between Labor Day and June 1. The children also worked more than three hours during a school day and school hours.

It seems to be becoming a habit for the company. The company has been cited twice in the last two years, according to a release by the DOL. All violations were against child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Three 15-year-olds were permitted to use an oven for baking biscuits and a manual grease fryer, both against DOL regulations.

“While learning new workforce skills is a valuable part of growing up, an employer must never jeopardize the safety and well-being of young workers or interfere with their education,” explained Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Juan Coria in Atlanta. “The Fair Labor Standards Act allows young people to gain appropriate work experience but includes important restrictions on work hours and job duties. Employers must avoid violations or potentially face costly consequences, and to help, we encourage them to use the division’s child labor compliance resources or contact our staff for guidance.” 

The franchisee is on the hook for a $27,586 civil money penalty for the multiple violations. In another case in South Carolina, 16 minors were affected, and the company received a $11,744 fine.

As part of the agreement, BOJ of WNC will take the following steps to ensure future compliance: 

  • Stop 14- and 15-year-olds from using manual fryers or engaging in cooking activities in any of the occupations prohibited under the law. The employer will also post written notices on equipment not permitted for use by minor-aged employees in its stores.
  •  Refrain from employing 14- and 15-year-olds to work outside of legally prescribed hours.
  •  Distribute a copy of the child labor provisions for non-agricultural occupations under the FLSA to all current and future locations owned by the enterprise and require all managers and shift leaders to return a compliance acknowledgment, certifying that they are currently in compliance with the applicable child labor laws. 
  •  Require all 14- and 15-year-old workers, and their parents or guardians, to sign an understanding of the child labor occupational and hours requirements under the law.
  •  Ensure area directors perform quarterly reviews of time records for 14- and 15-year-old workers.
  •  Add prohibited occupations for minor-aged employees to BOJ of WNC’s policy manuals, including cooking activities, use of deep fryers, long periods inside freezers or meat coolers, and adjustment or cleaning of power-driven machinery such as slicers, choppers and mixers. 

Headquartered in Arden, BOJ of WNC LLC operates 118 restaurants under the Bojangles banner and employs approximately 4,000 workers.

Image by Freepik.

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Ron Moses is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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