Wendy's West Louisville

The Wendy's at 1201 W. Broadway in Louisville is one of 99 Manna Inc.-operated restaurants where federal investigators found that teenagers were allowed to work prohibited hours under U.S. labor law. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The restaurant franchising company started by Louisville business titan Junior Bridgeman has been hit with a six-figure fine for allowing teenagers to work beyond the limits of federal labor law.

The U.S. Department of Labor said in a news release Friday that Louisville-based Manna Inc. will pay a $157,114 penalty after federal investigators found 14- and 15-year olds working illegal hours at 99 Manna-operated Wendy’s and Fazoli’s restaurants in nine states, including 18 restaurants in the Louisville area.

Investigators found that 446 minors worked before 7 am or after 7 pm on school nights, worked more than three hours on a school day or worked more than eight hours on a non-school day in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the news release.

Ryan Bridgeman, Junior Bridgeman’s son and the president of Manna, did not return a call for comment on Monday.

Ryan Bridgeman took over for his father, a former Louisville Cardinals basketball great and NBA player, after Junior Bridgeman became one of the few Coca-Cola bottling and distribution partners by acquiring Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Co. in 2017, according to a 2018 Louisville Business First story.

Founded in 1988, Manna operates 136 Wendy’s restaurants, 84 Fazoli’s restaurants, 28 Golden Corral Buffet and Grills, 11 Blaze Pizzas and six Mark’s Feed Stores, as well as Louisville’s Napa River Grill, according to its website.

Manna remains privately held.

“Child labor laws exist to ensure that when young people work, the work does not jeopardize their health and well-being or educational opportunities,” Karen Garnett-Civils, the Louisville-based district director for the labor department’s Wage and Hour Division, said. “We encourage all employers to review their employment obligations and to contact the Wage and Hour Division for compliance assistance.”

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2020 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.