Pittsburgh-area McDonald’s owner-operator fined nearly $60,000 for child labor law violations

A local owner-operator of 13 McDonald’s locations paid a civil penalty of more than $57,000 after federal regulators say they violated child labor laws involving 101 minors.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division said Bridgeville-based Santonastasso Enterprises, owned by John and Kathleen Santonastasso, allowed 14-and-15-year-old employees to work outside permissible hours.

The violations included allowing the minors to work more than three hours per day and after 7 p.m. on school days when the law forbids work beyond that time; later than 9 p.m. on days between June 1 and Labor Day, when they may legally only work until 9 p.m.; more than eight hours on a non-school day; and more than 18 hours a week during a regular school week.

These are violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Permitting young workers to work excessive hours can jeopardize their safety, well-being and education,” said Wage and Hour District Director John DuMont in Pittsburgh in a prepared statement. “Employers who hire young workers must understand and comply with federal child labor laws or face costly consequences.”

Investigators also found a minor under the age of 16 was allowed to operate a deep fryer, which was not properly equipped, at a Pittsburgh location, according to a news release.

The investigation included four locations in Pittsburgh and two in Waynesburg, as well as locations in Bridgeville, Castle Shannon, Coraopolis, Greentree, Moon Township, Star Junction and McKees Rocks.

John and Kathleen Santonastasso provided the following statement to Channel 11:

“We take our role as a local employer very seriously and we regret any scheduling issues that may have occurred at our restaurants. Our biggest priority is always the safety and well-being of our employees and we have since instituted a series of new and enhanced processes and procedures to ensure employees are scheduled appropriately.”