According to CNN, Chipotle has agreed to pay a $1.3 million fine for more than 13,000 child labor violations at over 50 of its Massachusetts restaurants. The state’s attorney general’s office accused the company of forcing teenagers to work without proper work permits, late into the night, and for too many hours per day and week. It’s the largest child labor penalty in Massachusetts history.

Writing at, Suzanne Lucas (aka the Evil HR Lady) makes the excellent point that these failing fall squarely on the shoulders of management.

Employees, even adult employees, aren’t expected to know and comply with all labor laws. … It’s not up to a 17-year-old to clock out no later than 9:59 pm. It’s the manager’s responsibility to make sure it happens. This can be difficult for managers—and can require some complicated scheduling or hiring more adults than teenagers. Some teens want to work more hours and are happy to keep their mouths shut. It doesn’t change the law around it. Managers need training on the law and how it differs between adults and minor employees.

So what are the rule of the road for child workers? Each state’s laws differs. Here’s what Ohio law says on the issue.

Ages 14 and 15

When school is in session: i) they cannot work between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.; ii) they cannot work for more than 3 hours on any school day; and iii) they cannot work more than 18 hours during any school week

When school is out of session: i) they cannot work between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.; ii) they cannot work more than 8 hours per day; and iii) they cannot work more than 40 hours per week.

Ages 16 and 17

When school is in session: i) 11 p.m. before a school day to 7 a.m. on a school day (6 a.m. if not employed after 8 p.m. the previous night); and there are no limits on hours worked per day or week.

When school is not in session, there are no limits on starting or ending times, or hours worked per day or week.

Unlike adult workers, all minors are required to have a 30-minute uninterrupted break when working for more than five consecutive hours.

Prohibited Occupations

  • All minors are prohibited from working in the following occupations:
  • Slaughtering, meat-packing, processing rendering
  • Operation of power-driven slicers; bakery machines; paper product machines; metal forming; punching or shearing machines; circular and band saws; guillotine shears; woodworking machines
  • Manufacture of brick, tile, and kindred products
  • Manufacture and storage of chemicals or explosives, or exposure to radioactive and ionizing radiation substances
  • Coal mining and mining other than coal
  • Logging and sawmilling
  • Motor vehicle, railroads, maritime, and longshoreman occupations
  • Excavation operations, wrecking, demolition, and shipbreaking
  • Power-driven and hoisting apparatus equipment
  • Roofing operations

Additional Prohibited Occupations for 14- and 15-Year-Olds

  • Manufacturing and warehouse occupations (except office and clerical work)
  • Public messenger services occupations
  • Work in freezers; meat coolers and all preparations of meats for sale (except wrapping, sealing labeling, weighing, pricing, and stocking)
  • Transportation; storage, communications, public utilities; construction and repair
  • Work in boilers or engine rooms; maintenance or repair of machinery
  • Outside window washing from window sills, scaffolding, ladders or their substitutes
  • Cooking, baking, operating, setting up, adjusting, cleaning, oiling, or repairing power-driven food slicers, grinders, food choppers cutters, baker type mixers
  • Loading or unloading goods to and from trucks, railroad cars or conveyors
  • Work with cars and trucks involving pits, racks, or lifting apparatus
  • Inflation of tires mounted on rimes equipped with a removable retaining ring
  • For-profit door-to-door employment (unless the employer is registered with the Ohio Dept. of Commerce Division of Labor & Worker Safety)

As one can imagine, the Department of Labor and state attorney general offices take child labor violations very seriously. Just ask Chipotle. And ignorance is no excuse.

This post originally appeared on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and was written by Jon Hyman, Partner, Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis. Jon can be reached at via email at, via telephone at 216-831-0042, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter.


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