Utah Cookie franchises have been fined nearly $58,000 for violating child labor laws

Federal investigators found violations at 11 Crumbl Cookie sites.

(Crumbl Cookies) Pictured is a cookie tray at Crumbl Cookies. The Lyndon-based company was fined by the US Department of Labor for violating child labor laws in several of its bakeries.

Franchisees of a Utah cookie company face nearly $58,000 in fines after federal investigators said they discovered 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 “hazardous or prohibited occupations” for minors, according to a statement released Tuesday by the US Department of Labor. The statement said this dangerous work includes operating ovens and other “potentially dangerous” machines.

“It is the responsibility of every employer who hires young workers to understand child labor laws, and comply with them or face costly consequences,” Betty Campbell, a federal official with the Department of Wage and Hours, said in a statement.

The violations come as Crumbl, with its signature pink boxes and fan favorite milk chocolate chip, 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 sugar-and-spice battle involved Crumbl CEO Jason McGowan taking to social media to publicly accuse Dirty Dough of stealing information from Crumbl’s database through a former employee. Dirty Dough denied the allegations and launched an advertising campaign with billboards declaring: “The cookies are so good, we’re suing!”

In a statement released Tuesday in response to the child labor abuses, Crumple said he was “disappointed” to learn about these issues at his franchise locations and apologized for any employees who were hurt.

“We are actively working to understand what happened at these specific store locations and will take appropriate action to ensure all of our franchisees comply with the law,” the company said.

The US Department of Labor has reported discovering violations in Crumbl franchises across six states. Of these, 46 teenage workers were affected. A department spokesperson said the fines are the responsibility of the franchisees, not the main company.

Most of the violations occurred in Utah, where Crumple started in 2017 and still houses its main operations center in Lyndon. Four locations here—in Bountiful, Centerville, Layton, and Ogden—are listed for the abuse of 18 minors. The company has 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) List of Crumbl Cookie franchises that federal investigators say violate child labor laws.

The Bountiful, Utah, and San Ramon, California locations each had the highest number of minors affected, with nine at both stores.

Total fines for violations come to $57,854, with fines varying by location based on the severity of the problem.

According to investigators, Crumble had children who worked very long hours. Federal law states that people ages 14 to 15 can work no more than eight hours a day or more than 40 hours in a work week — whether or not school is in session.

They cannot work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on any day, except from June 1 to Labor Day, when students are usually on summer vacation and hours extend until 9 p.m. for minor workers. Campbell said this is to ensure a child’s education is not affected by the work.

In addition, no one under the age of 18 can work in a position deemed hazardous, including operating furnaces. In a cookie shop, this greatly limits minors working the front desk with customers or doing general janitorial work.

In its statement on Tuesday, the company added, “We apologize to any employee 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 Kramble location.”

Crumbl recently announced a partnership with the Utah Jazz, making them the official cookie of the basketball team. A Jazz spokesperson declined to comment on whether child labor violations would affect it.

Crumbl operates more than 600 locations in 47 states.

The company also came under heat two years ago, in December 2020, for hosting a large birthday party for employees where no one was photographed wearing a mask, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and with tight restrictions on gatherings.

(Crumbl Cookies) Pictured is a storefront for Crumbl Cookies.

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