The agency says it found that the operator violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by compensating workers who directed drive-through traffic with meal vouchers instead of proper wages, and violated child labor law by allowing three workers under 18 to use a trash compactor.
A person who identified themselves as a manager of the store over the phone Thursday declined to comment to The Washington Post. The restaurant’s operator did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment Thursday.
“Protecting our youngest workers continues to be a top priority for the Wage and Hour Division,” Richard Blaylock, North Carolina Wage and Hour Division District Director, wrote in the news release. “Child labor laws ensure that when young people work, the work does not jeopardize their health, well-being or educational opportunities. In addition, employers are responsible to pay workers for all of the hours worked and the payment must be made in cash or legal tender.”
The Hendersonville store ran the voucher-for-work program during the summer. The Post reported at the time that the store, in a since-deleted Facebook post, wrote: “We are looking for volunteers for our new Drive Thru Express! Earn 5 free entrees per shift (1 hr) worked. Message us for details.”
Only McDonald’s and Starbucks earned more sales in 2019 than Chick-fil-A’s $11.3 billion, according to a report from restaurant industry consulting firm Technomic.
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The fine is a relatively paltry amount, considering the average Chick-fil-A store outside of a mall in 2021 drew more than $8.1 million in annual revenue, The Post previously reported, citing franchise disclosure documents obtained by Restaurant Business magazine.
A spokeswoman for Chick-fil-A on Thursday said the Hendersonville store is responsible for its own labor practices and policies because it is independently owned and operated.
“Chick-fil-A Inc. follows all federal, state and local laws and we expect and require franchise Operators to comply with all laws applicable to their restaurant. This was a program at an individually owned restaurant and Chick-fil-A Inc. was not involved and did not endorse this. The restaurant decided to end the program earlier this summer,” spokeswoman Ashley Cobb wrote in an email.
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The chain has 2,600 restaurants open across 47 states, Washington, D.C., Canada and Puerto Rico, according to Chick-fil-A’s website. The company, headquartered in Atlanta, is known for its Bible Belt principles — including not operating stores on Sundays.
The name of the Hendersonville operator, Good Name 22:1, is seemingly a reference to Proverbs 22:1, which reads: “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.”