A Popeyes restaurant in Oakland, California, has closed over allegations of unsafe work conditions and claims of child labor.
Two 17-year-old Popeyes employees filed child labor and safety complaints after a customer allegedly climbed over the counter and assaulted one of the employees in February, ABC7 News reported Thursday. Popeyes corporate sent out a statement Thursday, saying the store had been closed and an investigation into the allegations had begun.
BREAKING: Workers at @Popeyes in Oakland, CA are ON STRIKE
At this Popeye’s, we’ve experienced child labor violations with children as young as 13 working 6 days a week, sometimes until midnight.
Sexual harassment and wage theft are also rampant at this location. pic.twitter.com/e5PUkowcKC
— Fight For 15 Nor Cal (@NorCalFF15) May 18, 2023
Minors under the age of 18 in the state of California are prohibited from working more than four hours during the school week and nothing past 10 p.m. before a school night. The teens claimed their Popeyes franchise employer scheduled them to work from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and sometimes after 11 p.m., the Washington Post reported, citing the complaint filed with California’s Department of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Johmara Romero, a 17-year-old cashier, alleged her employer requested she come to work in the middle of a school day, and that she did so by skipping school, according to the Post.
“It impacted me a lot,” Romero told the outlet, claiming she would miss the morning school bus after nights when she had to work late. “I started falling behind. I wouldn’t be able to get enough sleep. I would get frustrated. I don’t like falling behind in school. I would wonder if I would graduate because of my grades.” (RELATED: Customers Assault Popeyes Employees And Vandalize Restaurant After Getting Wrong Order: Police)
In addition to the child labor allegations, the teens said they were “subjected to ongoing sexual harassment and workplace violence,” according to the complaint shared by CBS News.
Popeyes shut down the restaurant immediately following the allegations, the Post reported. “We will not tolerate any violation of employment laws and if any of these allegations prove true, we will take action against this franchisee,” a spokesperson told the outlet.