Utah cookie company franchises fined nearly $58,000 for violating child labor laws

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Federal investigators found violations at 11 Crumbl cookie locations.

(Crumbl Cookies) Photo shows a tray of cookies in Crumbl Cookies. The Lindon-based company was fined by the US Department of Labor for violating child labor laws at several of its bakeries.

Franchisees of a Utah-based cookie company are facing nearly $58,000 in fines after federal investigators say they found several locations were violating child labor laws.

At 11 Crumbl Cookies locations, which started in Logan, investigators found children as young as 14 working long hours and in “dangerous or prohibited occupations” for minors, according to a statement from the US Department of Labor on Tuesday. That dangerous work, the statement said, included operating furnaces and other “potentially dangerous” machinery.

“It is the responsibility of every employer who hires underage workers to understand child labor laws and comply with them or potentially face costly consequences,” Betty Campbell, federal administrator for the Division of Wage and Hour, said in a statement.

The breaches come as Crumbl, with its iconic pink boxes and fan-favorite milk chocolate, fights for top billing in Utah’s “cookie wars.” The company launched two lawsuits earlier this year alleging that two other smaller companies in the state — Dirty Dough and Crave Cookies — infringed on its trademarks by copying Crumbl’s recipes, processes and packaging.

The heated battle full of sugar and spice included Crumbl CEO Jason McGowan taking to social media to publicly accuse Dirty Dough of stealing information from Crumbl’s database via a former employee. Dirty Dough denied the allegations and launched an advertising campaign with billboards declaring, “Cookies so good we’re being sued!”

In a statement on Tuesday in response to the child labor violations, Crumbl said it was “disappointed” to learn of the issues at its franchised locations and apologized to all affected employees.

“We are actively working to understand what occurred at these specific stores and will take appropriate steps to ensure that all of our franchisees fully comply with the law,” the company said.

The US Department of Labor said it found violations at Crumbl franchises in six states. Among them, 46 teenage workers were affected. A department spokesman said fines are the responsibility of franchisees, not the main corporation.

Most of the breaches took place in Utah, where Crumbl started in 2017 and continues to house its main hub of operations in Lindon. Four locations here – in Bountiful, Centerville, Layton and Ogden – have been listed for harming 18 minors. The company has a total of 28 locations in the state.

The other violations were reported at three franchises in California, one in Minnesota, one in New Hampshire, one in Tennessee and one in Washington.

(US Department of Labor) A list of Crumbl Cookies franchises that federal investigators believe violated child labor laws.

The Bountiful, Utah and San Ramon, California locations had the most affected minors, with nine at both stores.

The total fines imposed come to $57,854 for violations, with fines varying by location based on the severity of the issue.

Crumbl, according to investigators, had mostly children working long hours. Federal law states that 14- and 15-year-olds cannot work more than eight hours a day or more than 40 hours in a work week – whether school is open or not.

And they cannot work before 7:00 am or after 7:00 pm on any day except June 1st through Labor Day, when students are normally on summer break and hours are extended to 9:00 pm for underage workers. Campbell said it is to ensure a child’s education is not affected by work.

In addition, no person under the age of 18 may work in a position considered hazardous, which includes operating furnaces. In a biscuit shop, this largely limits minors to working the front counter with customers or doing general cleaning work.

The company added in its statement on Tuesday: “We apologize to all employees of our franchisees who may have been affected by this situation and want to assure the public that we are committed to maintaining the highest standards of integrity and compliance at each location. by Crumbl. 🇧🇷

Crumbl recently announced a partnership with the Utah Jazz, making him the basketball team’s official cracker. A Jazz spokesperson declined to comment on whether child labor violations would affect that.

Crumbl operates over 600 locations in 47 states.

The company was also criticized two years ago, in December 2020, for hosting a large employee Christmas party where no one was photographed wearing a mask, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened restrictions on gatherings.

(Crumbl Cookies) The picture is a Crumbl Cookies shop.