Crumbl Cookies Is Being Accused Of Violating Child Labor Laws

For an up-and-coming franchise like Crumbl, the last words you probably want to hear are "child labor law violation." The Utah-based cookie franchise has been expanding rapidly, if "rapidly," can do this kind of unprecedented growth justice. Crumbl has gone from opening its first location in Logan, Utah in 2017 to more than 600 locations just five years later. The gourmet concept is based around a rotating menu of cookies, which ABC News reports has expanded to over 170 different flavors. Only a few favorites, pink sugar cookie and chocolate chip, stay on the menu every week, but that hasn't stopped Crumble from amassing legions of fans and growing to dominate the rapidly expanding cookie shop field.

The company's success has been driven by a few business decisions beyond making good cookies. Any fan of Crumbl is likely familiar with its heavy social media presence, which Deseret News reports was part of the plan from the beginning. It focuses heavily on aesthetic choices like its self-declared "iconic" pink box, which are perfect for Instagram, and its weekly new flavors are engineered to take advantage of social media virality. The other strategy has been to lean heavily on franchising. QSR Magazine notes that Crumbl invests heavily in technology and measurable data to try and give franchisees the biggest head start possible while opening stores very quickly. However, that decentralized approach may be the same thing that's now giving Crumbl problems.

Crumbl franchises were employed children as young as 14 for long hours

Franchising has gone a long way in helping chains dominate the restaurant industry. Still, it means outsourcing a lot of your oversight to local owners, including how it treat its workers. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Department of Labor (DOL) found 11 Crumbl franchise locations to be in violation of child labor laws. The violations mostly involved children working longer hours than legally allowed, with the law saying 14 and 15-year-olds cannot work more than 40 hours a week, or 8 hours per day. Minors are also not allowed to handle dangerous equipment in the workplace, which, in Crumbl's case, would be hot ovens. A total of 46 teenagers were affected by the violations, mostly in Utah and California, resulting in $58,000 worth of fines.

The DOL stated that the fines are levied on the franchise holders, not Crumbl corporate. However, these labor violations come at a time when the company is involved in other legal battles. Crumbl's other cookie drama involves suing two top competitors, Crave Cookies and Dirty Dough, for allegedly infringing on Crumbl's recipes and other business practices. As for the workers, Crumbl apologized and vowed to make sure its locations stay compliant with the law. The company still plans to continue its expansion. Still, if Crumbl wants to keep competing with, and dominating, other cookie brands like Insomnia, it'll need to be more on top of its franchise's business practices in the future.