The Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Woodland received a fine of more than $26,000 for hundreds of instances of teenagers under 18 working more than the hours allowed under state law, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) announced late last month.

On Nov. 26, L&I announced that two businesses in Washington had been cited and fined for more than 1,100 times the department found they had teens working more than what was allowed. At the Carl’s Jr. the investigation found 15 teens, either 16 or 17 years old, had worked more than allowed.

L&I Youth Employment Specialist Josie Bryan stated in the announcement that those instances, along with more than 650 instances at the Family Fun Center in Tukwila, were the most ever cited in her experience. 

“Laws that limit the hours youth work are in place for their safety, and to ensure school is the priority,” she stated.

The investigations took place between March and July, according to L&I’s announcement. Both Carl’s Jr. and the Family Fun Center cooperated in the investigation and paid their fines.

State law caps when and how much minors can work. Fourteen and 15-year-olds can only work  three hours a day between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and no more than 16 hours a week, six days a week  and only eight hours on Saturday and Sunday. Sixteen and 17-year-olds were capped at four hours a day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. (as late as midnight Friday-Saturday nights), for no more than 20 hours a week, six days a week and eight hours on Saturday and Sunday.

L&I’s announcement stated that youth could work longer hours during times when school was not in session such as winter break.

“We want businesses to hire teens, who gain valuable skills and positive experiences,” Bryan stated in the announcement. “Our goal is to make sure young workers are safe, and help businesses comply with the law.”

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