Investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division found that two operators of Tropical Smoothie Café franchisees in Tampa, FL employed teen workers in hazardous jobs.
Both owners allowed minors to load powered trash compactors, a job considered hazardous under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
More than $10K in fines for each franchisee
JAB Adventures Inc., the operator of eight Tampa-area franchise locations, allowed workers under the age of 18 to load a trash compactor while the keys were inserted and the machine was in the “on” status, according to investigators.
The franchisee also allowed 11 teen employees, ages 14 to 15 years old, to work more than 18 hours during a school week, before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on a school day and more than 40 hours during non-school weeks, all in violations of the FLSA.
These violations led to a fine of $10,054.
A separate investigation of Three Grls LLC, operator of seven Tampa-area franchises, found that the franchisee allowed a 15-year-old to load a trash compactor. It also allowed 11 teen employees to work more than three hours on a school day and more than eight hours on a non-school day.
Three Grls LLC received $10,564 in penalties for the child labor violations.
Part of an ongoing initiative
These investigations are part of an ongoing cross-regional food services initiative in the southeast U.S. by the Wage and Hour Division.
In fiscal years 2020 and 2021, the agency’s Southeast region found child labor violations in more than 190 food service employers investigated, resulting in more than $1 million in penalties assessed to employers.
More information on the FLSA and child labor laws can be found here.