As the summer hiring season creeps ever closer, U.S. businesses will be offering more employment opportunities to teen workers, but employers must keep in mind that, by law, underage employees can’t be given hazardous job duties.
Recent violations found by the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division in Idaho and Oregon illustrate that fact, with more than $240,000 in fines issued in three investigations in the two states.
Teens not allowed to operate dangerous equipment
Super 1 Foods, operator of 16 grocery stores in Idaho, Montana and Washington, allowed teens to operate power-driven trash compactors and box balers at its Post Falls, Idaho, location. Operating dangerous equipment is a violation of the child labor law. Teens were also permitted to work more hours than federal law allows. The company was fined $154,831 for those safety violations along with various wage-related violations.
Fred Meyer, a Portland, OR-based subsidiary of Kroger Co., allowed teen workers to regularly load power-driven box balers. This employer was cited for similar violations in 2007 and 2008, leading to a $55,440 fine for the recent willful violations.
Ridley’s Family Markets, an Idaho-based grocery chain, allowed minors to operate a power-driven baler and compactor as part of their regular job duties and four different stores. One teen worker suffered a severe cut while loading and operating a baler. The fine issued to this company was not listed in a DOL news release on the three investigations.
The Wage and Hour Division found child labor violations in more than 4,000 cases from fiscal year 2017 to 2021, finding more than 13,000 minors employed in violation.