SAN FRANCISCO - Nine Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlors in the San Francisco Bay Area have been fined a total of more than $28,000 for violating federal child-labor laws, authorities said.
Eight restaurants allowed 16 teenagers to load and operate on-site trash compactors, while the ninth location allowed two minors to operate a dough mixer, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division.
The restaurants in question were not identified. There are 13 Chuck E. Cheese restaurants in the Bay Area, which are among the 554 stores in the U.S. and seven other countries, according to the company's website.
"We all want young workers to develop the skills and experience necessary to compete in the marketplace, but safety must never be sacrificed in the process," said Ruben Rosalez, acting administrator of the wage and hour division's western region. "Employers have an obligation to ensure minors are not performing tasks that could be harmful, which is why these child labor rules were established."
The Labor Department said Chuck E. Cheese has agreed to comply with the federal regulations and has paid the civil penalties.
The company has also removed keys from compactors, instructed teen employees not to operate the prohibited machines and applied stickers to the equipment warning that use by minors is prohibited.
Brenda Holloway, a spokeswoman for CEC Entertainment Inc. of Irving, Texas, said the company had not previously been aware of certain regulations, such as the need for stickers on specific machines.
"As soon as we were made aware of that, we did correct the deficiencies and paid our fines. We're walking the straight and narrow now," Holloway said.
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