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Popeyes closes store after labor demands from teenage workers

  • Teenage workers at a Popeyes in Oakland, California, filed complaints with the state labor department.
  • A former employee said she had to skip school after being asked to cover a weekday shift.
  • Popeyes closed the franchisee-operated store and opened an investigation into the allegations Thursday.

A California Popeyes restaurant has been closed by the company after teenage employees filed complaints accusing the outlet of violating state child labor laws with long hours and late shifts.

On Thursday, protesters gathered outside the Oakland store as workers began a strike over complaints that junior employees were being asked to skip school for shifts and work after 11 p.m., The Washington Post reported.

California labor laws state that those under 18 are not allowed to work more than four hours in a school day, nor work after 11:00 p.m.

During the protest, cashier Johmara Romero, 17, spoke out about her own experience at the site and blamed her poor performance at school on a demanding work schedule.

“One time I worked until 11 p.m. on a school night and I was late for school the next morning because I overslept,” Romero wrote in a statement reported by the Los Angeles Times. “One time they called me into work at noon on a school day, even though school runs until 2:30 p.m., because they were short staffed, so I skipped school that day.”

Eventually, Romero said, she began to doubt whether she would be able to finish high school while working the job.

She told the LA Times: “I started falling behind. I wouldn’t be able to get enough sleep. I would get frustrated. I don’t like falling behind in school. I would wonder if I would graduate because of my grades.”

Following the allegations, Popeyes closed the store and opened an investigation into the complaints filed with the California Department of Labor.

Popeyes did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment outside of normal business hours, but a representative told The Washington Post: “We will not tolerate any violation of labor laws, and if any of these allegations are found to be true, we will take action against it . franchisee.”

Other fast food chains have also fallen foul of child labor laws in recent months. McDonald’s locations in Kentucky and Pennsylvania were investigated by the Department of Labor for allegedly having workers as young as 10 years old.

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