Popeyes fast-food restaurant in Oakland shut down after child-labor violation claims

On Thursday, allegations of child labor, inappropriate behavior, and a hostile environment shut down a Popeyes fried-chicken franchise in Oakland, California. The complaints were filed Wednesday with CalOSHA and the California Labor Commissioner by two 17-year-olds who allege that a coworker started working at the restaurant when she was just 13, in the 7th grade, and has been clocking in 40 to 45 hours a week, including late nights on school days. Allegations also include that lewd, sexually suggestive comments were made to female teen employees.

California's child-labor law bans employment of children 12 and 13 at any time on school days, or having them work more than 40 hours per week, and they are not to work past 7 p.m., or after 9 p.m. June 1 through Labor Day. The girl who allegedly started at the Popeyes at age 13 stayed on the same schedule when she was 14, also a labor-law violation, the complaint claimed.

The Oakland Popeyes employees also made disturbing allegations regarding the behavior of their security staff, including the use of pepper spray and threats of violence. Popeyes has stated they are investigating these allegations and will take necessary actions against any proven violation. Meanwhile, the accused franchise owners, Mohammad Noor and Sedig Joe Amin of 14th Street Chicken Corporation, have not commented on the matter.

The teens also alleged that the restaurant's security guards were too poorly trained to properly address conflicts in the restaurant.

"Two weeks ago one of our security guards threatened to kill a customer who entered the store…I know he pepper sprayed two people just last month.

"One day while I was working he pepper sprayed an unhoused woman who was refusing to leave and I watched her run out covering her face. Another day when I arrived to pick up my check there were ambulances around because he had pepper sprayed someone else."