Fast-Food Franchise Hit with $300,000 Fine for Child Labor Violations across Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester Counties

Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) has levied a $300,000 fine on GCWen Management, operator of 21 Wendy’s franchises across Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester counties. The penalty comes after investigators from L&I cited the company for 766 violations of the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act in 2023, primarily involving failure to provide legally mandated breaks to over 80 underage employees.

“L&I is dedicated to championing the rights of workers through enforcement of Pennsylvania’s labor laws. This commitment extends to vigorously protecting our children from unlawful employment practices,” said L&I Secretary Nancy A. Walker. “Remember, they are not just workers — they’re our kids — and their safety and rights are paramount. No company should ever put profit over the wellbeing of Pennsylvania’s youth.”

The Pennsylvania Child Labor Act, enforced by L&I’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance (BLLC), is a safeguard designed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of children employed within the state. It sets limits on employment in certain establishments and occupations, restricts work hours, regulates work conditions, and mandates work permits for children hired for certain positions.

Infringements of the Act can attract hefty fines, with each violation carrying a maximum penalty of up to $5,000. All fines collected from child labor law investigations are deposited into Pennsylvania’s General Fund, which finances various state services and programs.

The BLLC launched the investigation into GCWen’s operations following a tip-off from L&I’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation about minor injuries sustained by children at several Wendy’s locations. The investigation unearthed an array of violations, including:

  • 432 instances of failure to provide breaks on or before the 5th hour of work, involving 81 children.
  • 18 cases of employing a child without securing the appropriate work permit, involving 18 children.
  • 98 instances of failure to notify a child’s school within five days of hiring or termination, involving 98 children.
  • 10 instances of employing a child under the age of 16 without parental authorization, involving 10 children.
  • 208 instances of excessive hours worked, violating the permissible number of hours a child can work in a week, involving 34 children.
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In addition to the fine, GCWen management teams at all their Wendy’s locations must now undergo training provided by BLLC on adherence to the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act as part of a settlement agreement.

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