A Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Commerce paid $27,150 in civil penalties for violating child labor laws, regulators announced Wednesday.

An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor determined that the employer violated child labor requirements by assigning five minor employees to repeatedly load and operate a trash compactor and a cardboard compactor, according to the WHD.

Three times a day, the employer assigned two-employee teams, regardless of age, to collect trash and boxes and crush them in compactors. The practice resulted in violations when workers less than 18 years old loaded or operated the compactors, which the law prohibits for use by minor employees. The employer also provided all staff members, regardless of age, with the code needed to open the gate to access the compactors, according to the WHD.

After investigators notified Chipotle of the violations, the restaurant’s management agreed immediately to pay the civil penalties and to future compliance with all child labor laws, according to the WHD.

“Child labor laws exist to strike a balance between providing young people with meaningful work experience and keeping them safe at work,” said Kimchi Bui, the WHD district director in Los Angeles. “Employers are responsible for ensuring that their work does not jeopardize their health and well-being or conflict with educational opportunities. We invite all employers to contact the Wage and Hour Division for compliance assistance and with any questions they may have about their responsibilities.”

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