Popeyes shut down a store after teenage workers said they were asked to skip school and do late weeknight shifts

Sign on the exterior of a Popeyes restaurant
The Oakland location was shut down by Popeyes Thursday.Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • Teenage workers at a Popeyes in Oakland, California filed complaints with the state labor department.

  • One former employee said she had to skip school after being asked to cover a weekday shift.

  • Popeyes shut down the franchisee-operated store and opened an investigation into the claims Thursday.

A California Popeyes restaurant has been shut down by the company after teenage employees filed complaints accusing the outlet of breaking 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 minor employees were asked to skip school for shifts and work past 11 p.m., The Washington Post reported.

California labor laws state that those under 18 years old aren't permitted to work more than four hours on a school day, nor work past 11 p.m.

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

"One time I worked until 11p.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 goes until 2:30 pm, because they were short-staffed, so I skipped school that day."

Eventually, Romero said, she began to doubt if she'd 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 claims, Popeyes closed the store and opened an investigation into the complaints filed with the California labor department.

Popeyes didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside normal working hours, but a representative told The Washington Post: "We will not tolerate any violation of employment laws and if any of these allegations prove true, we will take action against this 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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