L & I fines Taco Bell franchise owner nearly $120,000

VIDEO: L & I fines Taco Bell franchise owner nearly $120,000

A Taco Bell franchise owner may have to pay nearly $120,000 after being fined for repeated teen worker law violations at a half-dozen Western Washington restaurants.

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries said employee and parent complaints prompted the fines after six investigations were conducted over three years.

L & I officials reported that numerous violations were found at restaurants located in Marysville, Auburn, and other locations.

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An investigation spanning January and February found 11 teens worked more than three hours without taking a break 59 times, and nine others worked more than four hours without a break on other occasions, L & I officials said.

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The restaurant located in Marysville, along with an Auburn location, also reportedly failed to come up with parent-school authorization forms or show proof of age for the teen workers, officials said.

A citation totaling $70,000 was issued against both restaurants back in June, but the fine against the Marysville location is being appealed, L & I officials said.

"Teens are an important part of the workforce. We enforce these laws to prevent injuries and keep them safe on the job," said David Johnson, L& I Employment Standards Program manager.

Back in 2015 and 2016, L & I officials said investigations of Taco Bell of America LLC locations resulted in violations at stores in Auburn, Tumwater, Woodland and Bonney Lake, and the company wound up paying fines totaling $49,450.

Training was provided to Taco Bell of America LLC restaurant managers and human resource staff during those investigations, L & I officials said.

"Teens often don't know their workplace rights, so it's up to managers to follow the laws and emphasize safety on the job," Johnson said.

L & I officials said they have requested a meeting with Taco Bell of America LLC to discuss changes in the company’s youth employment practices.

It owns some 60 restaurants in Washington state.