The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has found violations of the wage and child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at 38 Western Michigan fast food restaurant and manufacturing facilities.
The discovery comes as the division is making an effort to raise awareness and improve compliance with child labor laws in the region.
Among their findings, investigators discovered:
- More than 100 minors, 14- and 15-year-olds, employed outside permissible work hours;
- More than 30 minors, 14- and 15-year-olds, performing work prohibited by occupational standards for that age group and;
- 10 minors, from 15- to 17-year olds, employed to perform hazardous occupations prohibited for minors because of their dangerous nature, such as operating machinery including hoists, meat slicers, vertical dough mixers, and trash compactors, and making time-sensitive food deliveries.
WHD investigators also found employers owed more than $33 ,000 in back wages and liquidation damages to 113 employees for minimum wage and overtime violations.
“Education and enforcement initiatives help the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to collaborate with an industry, determine the root causes of violations, and provide assistance to employers – while protecting vulnerable minor employees while they gain valuable work experience,” said Wage and Hour District Director Mary O’Rourke, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “Child labor laws are designed to enable young workers to benefit from real life work experience, but not at the expense of their safety, well-being, or education.”
To address the issue, the Grand Rapids District Office conducted 15 outreach events at employer associations, public schools and webinars. The district also posts quizzes to its website to help employers learn more about child labor laws.