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Dave & Busters Under Fire Again for Child Labor Violations

Banner in Henderson, NV

Protestors are gathering at Dave & Busters locations in Orange County, CA, and Las Vegas, NV. They are flying provocative banners and hand billing over a jobsite in Henderson, NV, where they allege workers are being exploited.

They are aiming to draw attention to a rising pattern of questionable business practices at the entertainment franchise. According to them, the publicly traded company which claimed revenue of $2 billion at the end of 2022, puts profits first and consistently exploits workers from vulnerable populations to further this end.

The Most Recent Case

Over the Summer, the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office cited Dave & Buster's, which has three locations in Massachusetts, for violating state child labor and meal break laws, resulting in a settlement where the company will pay over $275,000 in penalties and compensation for more than 800 employees.

The violations included failure to provide state-mandated meal breaks, employing minors without work permits, and having minors work beyond the allowed hours. The investigation was initiated after a parent reported that their child was made to work past midnight on a school night, which is prohibited for minors in Massachusetts. Additionally, complaints surfaced regarding the denial of mandated meal breaks for employees working shifts of six hours or more.

Dave & Buster's has faced these allegations before. In 2017, the company settled a lawsuit in California for similar violations and paid over $1.8 million in damages. "They got busted in California. And over the Summer they got busted doing the same thing in Massachusetts. Is this standard operating procedure for Dave & Busters? Now, we're calling attention to the fact that it is no different when it comes to their construction practices. Of course, they are using rat contractors on their site in Nevada," says one of the protest organizers, J. Tafoya of the Carpenters Union.

Dave & Buster's Bottom Line

The Las Vegas and Orange County protestors, believe that the Massachusetts case is an example of the apparent lengths to which Dave & Buster's will go to increase their bottom line- even using and exploiting child labor. They stress that the same holds true in their treatment of construction workers, another vulnerable workforce that is often taken advantage of.

The Union alleges that it is not surprising that the company has hired what they consider a notoriously exploitative contractor on the project in Henderson. They allege that the contractor, Pete King Construction, is not meeting area standards for their craft workers and they are not providing proper health benefits and pension credits.

"This is a huge company that apparently cuts corners at every turn. We are trying to send a message to let them know that we know how they operate and that we will keep calling them out until they overhaul their business practices," says Tafoya.

Repeat Offender

The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office emphasized the importance of upholding labor laws to protect workers' rights, particularly vulnerable populations such as minors, and indicated a commitment to enforcing such regulations. The irony that an arcade has been cited twice for exploiting child workers is inescapable.

“Ensuring that employers are in compliance with these laws and that all employees are compensated and treated justly is an important priority for my office, and we will do everything we can to uphold and protect the rights of workers in Massachusetts.” Attorney General Andrea Campbell said in June.

The protests in Orange County and Las Vegas underscore broader concerns about worker exploitation and fair treatment in both the construction and service industries. To find a through line between two otherwise disparate work populations is a cause for alarm. These demonstrations aim to draw attention to and advocate for better working conditions at a company that doesn't need to practice business this way.

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