Wendy’s, Fazoli’s franchises in southern Wisconsin penalized for violating labor laws

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A franchise company that operates several Wendy’s restaurants and one Fazoli’s location in southwestern Wisconsin has been fined for violating child labor laws.

Manna Inc. is based in Louisville, Kentucky and operates Wendy’s and Fazoli’s restaurants in nine states. The company will pay a civil penalty of $157,114 for violations in 99 restaurants.

It owns three Wendy’s in Madison, two in Janesville, one each in Fitchburg and Sun Prairie. The company also owns one Fazoli’s in Madison. 38 minors were found to work in those 8 restaurants.

U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and House Division (WHD) said Manna Inc. violated child labor requirements as set by the Fair Labor Standards Act when it allowed 14- and 15-year-old employees to work outside of legally approved hours and more hours than allowed by law, according to a release by the department.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development had no complaints from employees at any of the 40 Wisconsin restaurants found in violation.

Jim Chiolino, the director of the Bureau of Hearings and Mediation in the Department of Workforce Development’s Equal Rights Division, said he’s not surprised they haven’t heard any complaints from the young employees.

“The kids feel that they want to work, even though it’s not in compliance with the law. We know that happens, so they’re not going to complain in many cases,” said Chiolino.

Chiolino hopes that seeing Manna Inc. get disciplined will deter other employers from not following the rules.

He said during the school year 14- and 15-year-old students “can work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. only a maximum of 3 hours per day, and they can’t work during school hours.”

On weekends, the employees can work a maximum of 8 hours, but not exceeding 18 hours a week when school is in session.

He encouraged employees, parents or schools that know of child labor law violations to call the Equal Rights Division to make a complaint at (608) 266-6860.

The community can also ask questions about the law.

“Child labor laws exist to ensure that when young people work, the work does not jeopardize their health and well-being or educational opportunities,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Karen Garnett-Civils, in Louisville, Kentucky. “We encourage all employers to review their employment obligations and to contact the Wage and Hour Division for compliance assistance.”

WHD investigators found the violations happened at restaurants in Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee and Wisconsin.