TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) -- Chipotle Mexican Grill agreed to a "groundbreaking settlement" with New Jersey on Tuesday for violating the state's child labor laws. The state says the franchise will pay $7.75 million to settle "alleged widespread and persistent violations" of its child labor laws.
The fast-food restaurant also agreed to a "far-reaching compliance plan" for its 85 locations in New Jersey.
According to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, a 2020 audit found about 30,660 alleged violations at Chipotle restaurants in the state. The audit revealed that minors were working more hours than they legally were allowed and that the restaurants did not provide adequate meal breaks.
"New Jersey is committed to protecting all workers -- especially young workers and others who are vulnerable and may not know their rights in the workplace," Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin said. "This historic settlement is just one result of the investments we have made throughout the Murphy Administration to proactively enforce our worker protection laws, and it should serve as a message to every employer that if you exploit your workers, you will be held accountable."
The audit covered the years 2017 to 2020 and was triggered by the franchise's history of child labor law violations in New Jersey and other states. The state said four Chiptole locations had been cited for violations in 2016-2018, including one in Mays Landing.
The state labor department says the owner of the franchise is cooperating with investigators and will make changes in the future.
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