A McDonald’s franchisee agreed to pay nearly $26,000 for violating child labor laws at three Santa Ana locations, federal authorities announced Wednesday.

The restaurants were letting minors operate indoor trash compactors — hazardous work that violates child labor laws, U.S. Department of Labor officials said.

Investigators found 18 minors loading and operating indoor trash compactors at the restaurants, which are operated by Man-Cal Inc. and Cal-Man Corp, in Costa Mesa.

Children younger than 18 can’t load or operate power-driven compactors and paper processing machines. It’s part of a law meant to protect teenagers from jobs that are considered detrimental to their health or wellbeing.

“The changes agreed to by the owner will ensure the safety of youth workers,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Eric Murray said in a statement. “This young workforce is providing high demand services to all of us. In turn, they should not have to demand basic workers’ rights such as safety at the workplace.”

In addition to paying $25,920 civil monetary penalties, the franchise agreed to ensure additional training and oversight for managers and employees at all of its locations.

 The McDonald’s franchise owner, Virginia Mangione, released a statement following the Labor Department’s announcement.

“Our organization’s number one priority is always to ensure the health and safety of our employees and customers. As a locally-owned business, we take pride in helping to protect all our staff,”  the statement from Mangione read. “When we became aware of the violation, swift action was taken to re-educate managers to ensure we continue to be in compliance with labor laws and standards.”

Parents and teenagers can find information on child labor laws here.