Former Sonic employee recounts experience after franchisee fined for violating child labor laws
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Following a near-$42,000 fine against an area Sonic Drive-in franchise operator for violating child labor laws, 12 News spoke with a former employee who spoke anonymously about what she experienced.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that BBR Investments LLC, based in Newton, and owner of 17 Sonic drive-in locations in Kansas, violated child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act at three stores: one each in Hutchinson, McPherson and Newton. The investigation found that 50 teens, ages 14 and 15, were employed working more hours than child labor laws allow.
The employee who spoke with 12 News said she started working at the Sonic restaurant in McPherson at the age of 15, from the summer of 2020 to the end of last year. She said she sometimes worked 12-hour shifts.
Federal law only allows employees 16 and younger to work eight hours in a shift on a non-school day.
“I would work 12 hour shifts on weekends sometimes and only get about 30-minute breaks, if I was lucky, just one,” the former Sonic employee said.
She said she was not part of the investigation that led to the fine against the franchise operator, but feels there should be accountability for what happened to all of the underage employees who were worked beyond what the law allows.
12 News reached out to Newton-based BBR Investments, owner of the three stores where violations were confirmed. As of late Wednesday night, the franchisee hasn’t responded.
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