Massachusetts is sending a message to some of the country's biggest restaurant chains: Stop exploiting teenage workers.
Wendy's was the latest company to get the memo from the state's attorney general, Maura Healey, when the fast-food chain on Tuesday agreed to pay $400,000 to resolve allegations that it violated child labor laws by having teenage employees at dozens of Massachusetts restaurants work later and longer than allowed.
Healey's office began investigating after a minor employed at a Wendy's in Worcester complained that teenagers were working too late into the night and too many hours per day. Wendy's provided records to investigators, who found that the restaurant was violating two child labor laws by allowing 16- and 17-year-old employees to work past 10 p.m. and more than nine hours per day.
Investigators estimated more than 2,100 violations at 46 corporate-owned Wendy's International locations across the state.
"We are committed to being a responsible employer, with the goal that all employees have a rewarding experience as valued members of our team," Wendy's said in a statement.
Other chains hit in state crackdown
In response to the investigation, Wendy's has changed its employee scheduling system to ensure compliance, the attorney general's office said.
"Wendy's came into compliance as a result of our investigation and took meaningful steps to ensure a safe and productive work environment for its young workers," Healey said in a statement.
Another popular restaurant company, Chipotle Mexican Grill, also recently settled charges that it broke child labor laws in Massachusetts. In January, the chain agreed to pay a $1.3 million fine over more thanat its restaurants in the state.
Last year, Healey's office also fined fast-casual chain Qdoba Mexican Eats $400,000 for more than 1,000 child labor law violations in 22 corporate-owned locations in Massachusetts.
The latest penalty against Wendy's is "one of many violations by the fast-food industry," Healey said in a tweet.
Under Massachusetts law, children under 18 may not work more than nine hours a day or more than 48 hours in a week. Fourteen- and 15-year-old children may not work later than 7 p.m., while 16- and 17-year-olds may not work later than 10 p.m. on a night preceding a school day, or later than midnight preceding a non-school day.