Eleven Crumbl Cookie locations, including four in Utah, are in violation of child labor laws, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday.
The 11 Crumbl Cookie operators in six states are facing financial penalties for allowing young employees — many only 14 or 15 years old — to work more hours than permitted by law or in hazardous or prohibited conditions.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found violations affecting 46 workers at some Crumbl Cookies franchisees in California, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Utah and Washington, according to a statement from the Labor Department. The violations range from minor employees working longer and later than allowed by law to minors operating "potentially dangerous" ovens and machinery.
Whether school is in session or not, 14- and 15-year-old workers cannot work more than eight hours per day or exceed 40 hours per workweek, the statement says. In addition, employers must not allow 14- and 15-year-olds to work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on any day, except from June 1 through Labor Day, when nighttime work hours are extended to 9 p.m. All workers under the age of 18 are banned from occupations considered hazardous by federal law, the Labor Department said.
"Employers must ensure that part-time employment does not jeopardize the safety or education of young workers," said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Betty Campbell in the statement. "It is the responsibility of every employer who hires minor workers to understand child labor laws, and comply with them or potentially face costly consequences."
The division completed child labor investigations at the following Utah Crumbl locations:
- Operator: BE Bountiful LLC.
- Minors impacted: 9.
- Penalties: $7,423.
- Operator: BE Centerville LLC.
- Minors impacted: 5.
- Penalties: $3,624.
- Operator: Farr Bakeries LLC.
- Minors impacted: 3.
- Penalties: $5,460.
- Operator: SBP Investments II LLC.
- Minors impacted: 1.
- Penalties: $1,820.
Crumbl issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying that it is committed to “a safe and welcoming work environment for all of our franchisees and their employees. We take any violation of federal labor laws very seriously. We were deeply disappointed to learn that a small number of our franchised locations were found to be in violation of these laws.”
Crumbl officials said they are “actively working to understand what has occurred at these specific store locations and will take appropriate action to ensure that all of our franchisees are fully compliant with the law. We apologize to any of our franchisees’ employees who may have been affected by this situation and want to assure the public that we are committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and compliance at every Crumbl location.”
Earlier this year, Crumbl fired the first shot in Utah's ongoing “cookie wars,” filing a federal lawsuit accusing rivals Dirty Dough and Crave of what it calls "confusingly similar" logos, websites and other marketing materials. The lawsuit also accused Dirty Dough of copying recipes, claiming the founder's brother is a former Crumbl employee.
The suits, filed in the U.S. District Court on May 10, indicate that Crumbl is seeking triple damages from Crave and Dirty Dough, in an amount deemed fair by the court. An amended lawsuit against Crave was filed June 29.
Additionally, the suits filed against Crave claim that Crave co-founder Trent English toured a Crumbl location and even applied to be a franchisee shortly before starting his own business in 2019.
Crave filed a response to the lawsuit on June 8, denying that English ever applied for or was denied a Crumbl franchise. It also denies that Crave is in violation of any intellectual property rights.
The lawsuit against Dirty Dough claims that Bradley Maxwell, identified as a Dirty Dough founder, was a process engineer at Crumbl from March 2019 through June 2019. Through this position, he became familiar with Crumbl's recipes, methods and formulas, as well as its branding identity, the lawsuits allege.
He also signed agreements stating he would not expose this confidential, insider information at any time during or after his employment, according to Crumbl.
In Dirty Dough's response to the lawsuit, the company said only that Maxwell worked for Crumbl in 2019 and denied all allegations of wrongdoing.