A federal investigation into a Popeyes franchisee called 14th St. Chicken Corp, which ran three fast food restaurants in Oakland, Tracy, and Newark, revealed that it was illegal hiring employees as young as 13.

The franchisee, which is based at 7007 International Blvd. in Oakland, also had hired minors who worked later and longer than permitted by child labor laws, as well as shortchanged workers by not paying out overtime earnings.

It was apparently the third time that the 14th St. Chicken Corp had been found in violation of labor laws, according to a federal press release.

The company has already had to pay a total of $212,000 in fines, damages, and unpaid wages, with federal investigators saying, "This is the third time that the division has cited the Oakland-based Popeyes franchisee for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act."

The Chronicle reportedly tried to reach the listed CEO and secretary, Mohammad Zarif Noor and Sedig Joe Amin, but he did not respond.

The announcement came nearly nine months after fast food workers held a protest outside that Oakland Popeyes at 7007 International Blvd. over the child labor complaints, per the Mercury News. The restaurant temporarily shut down, but has since reopened.

The original complaint reportedly came from two 17-year-old employees who worked at the Oakland location. They complained of alleged child labor and “frequent violence.” As the Mercury News reported, they said that a 13-year-old girl in the seventh grade was working 40 to 45 hours a week, six days a week, with shifts until midnight on three school nights a week.

Federal laws prohibit the employment of any child under 14 in restaurants, and while 14- and 15-year-olds can be hired, they cannot work during school hours, no more than 3 hours on a school day, more than 8 hours on a non-school day, and no more than 18 hours during a week when school is in session.

"The U.S. Department of Labor is determined to fight child labor violations in all sectors, including the fast-food industry," said Wage and Hour Division Assistant District Director Alberto Raymond in a statement. "Child labor laws protect minors and help ensure young workers enjoy positive workplace experiences without jeopardizing their education."

Image of Oakland Popeyes via Google Street View.