At this point, we would rather the electric kiosks over child labor.
Nathan Pitts and Annette Cardwell were looking forward to late-night McDonald’s when they stumbled across the disturbing sight: young children behind the drive-thru counter.
“We were appalled and couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” Cardwell told Newsweek.
It’s not the first time McDonald’s has caught the limelight for workplace issues involving minors. In 2020, six McDonald’s restaurants in Louisville found themselves in hot water over child labor violations, local news reported. As the result of a U.S. Department of Labor investigation, a McDonald’s franchisee paid nearly $50,000 for violating federal child labor laws.
This time, though, it wasn’t involving 14- and 15-year-olds.
“They got little kids working the drive-thru over here on McDonald’s on Taylor Boulevard,” he said while filming children walking around behind the window. “They ain’t no older than 10 years old…this is ridiculous. And you wonder why the line is wrapped around—because they got these little kids.”
Cardwell said she was so perturbed that she didn’t even want her food anymore, while Pitts pointed out that one boy’s head barely reached the window.
“Look how he’s stirring up the…oh no…the tea!” Pitts said.
The couple demanded a refund, saying they refused to pay for food handled by children.
McDonald’s told Newsweek in a statement, “We are aware of the incident and can confirm that the minors shown in the video are not employees of the restaurant; they are children of some of our employees.”
The spokesperson added, “While we are proud to employ many parents and caregivers and understand that sometimes kids may visit a parent’s workplace, minors who are not employees are not permitted behind the counter. We have taken action to ensure that all of our employees are reminded of our policies regarding visitors.”
Still, the fact that the minors were not employed by McDonald’s hardly soothed the customers, who still witnessed children preparing and serving their order.
“They were making drinks while wiping snot from [their] noses, while looking exhausted,” Cardwell said. “When we pulled to the second window the little girl handed me my drinks and proceeded to the back, while her brother was stirring up my tea.”
These violations were announced shortly after Manna Inc., a Kentucky-based restaurant franchising company, was hit with a $157,114 fine for similar violations. Federal investigators found that 14- and 15-year-olds were working outside of normal business hours at Wendy’s and Fazoli’s restaurants across nine states.