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A Chick-fil-A that paid workers with sandwiches instead of actual money was just fined by the Department of Labor

December 22, 2022, 6:27 PM UTC
Chick-fil-A logo
A Chick-fil-A outlet in North Carolina has run afoul of the Labor Department.
Jakub Porzycki—NurPhoto via Getty Images

A Chick-fil-A restaurant in North Carolina sparked outrage this summer by paying “volunteers” with sandwiches instead of money. Now, it’s been ordered by a federal agency to issue those workers paychecks. 

The Department of Labor on Monday released a statement saying that some employees at a Hendersonville outlet who were asked to direct traffic were paid with “meal vouchers rather than wages, in violation of minimum wage provisions.”

The agency added, “Employers are responsible to pay workers for all of the hours worked and the payment must be made in cash or legal tender.” 

The restaurant drew angry comments after it posted the “job” opportunity on its Facebook page, writing on July 26: “We are looking for volunteers for our new Drive Thru Express! Earn 5 free entrees per shift (1 hr) worked. Message us for details.” 

It quickly removed the post after strong backlash, writing in a follow-up post: “Thanks for everyone’s concern on this matter. This is a volunteer based opportunity, which means people can opt in to volunteer if they think it’s a good fit for them. We’ve had multiple people sign up and enjoy doing and have done it multiple times. People who sign up for this chose it voluntarily. We are still hiring full time and part time team members, so if you are interested in working in our store, we pay $19/hr.”

Like many Chick-Fil-A locations, the restaurant is run independent of the chain’s parent organization. Fortune reached out to the latter, as well as the specific restaurant that offered the “volunteer” positions for comment, but did not receive an immediate reply.

The restaurant was also fined for letting teenagers operate hazardous machinery. According to the statement, three workers under the age of 18 were allowed to operate, load or unload a trash compactor, in violation of federal child labor regulations that prohibit employing minors to perform hazardous jobs.

“Protecting our youngest workers continues to be a top priority,” said Richard Blaylock, district director for the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division in Raleigh, North Carolina, wrote the statement. “Child labor laws ensure that when young people work, the work does not jeopardize their health, well-being or educational opportunities.”

The Fair Labor Standards Act limits what jobs workers under age 18 can do and which hours they can work, with additional restrictions for employees under 16.

This is not the first time a Chick-fil-A has run afoul of the Labor Department. In August, the agency fined an outlet in Tampa, Florida, nearly $12,500 for allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to work past 7 p.m. and more than three hours on school days.

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