The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is reaching out to employers, teens and parents in the Southeast in an effort to protect teen workers as the summer hiring surge approaches.
Southeast employers were assessed more than $2.8 million in penalties from federal child labor law violations from 2020 to 2022, according to the DOL. Further, child labor law violations have risen 68% since 2018.
From fiscal year 2020 through 2022, the DOL Wage and Hour Division conducted more than 500 child labor investigations affecting nearly 2,900 minors in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Some violations involved teens suffering life-changing injuries
While many of the violations involved the amount of hours teen workers are allowed to work, some are directly related to safety.
These violations were “most commonly found in the restaurant, retail, construction and amusement industries, but recent violations in the Southeast auto manufacturing and meat processing industries are alarming.”
Part of the Wage and Hour Division’s focus on enforcement of child labor regulations is intended to prevent life-changing injuries such as those suffered by:
- an underaged worker in Florida illegally employed to work on a roof, and
- hot oil burns sustained by an underaged McDonald’s worker illegally assigned to use a manual fryer in Tennessee.
“Unfortunately, we sometimes learn that an employer violated the law only after a child suffers an injury,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Juan Coria. “Failing to comply with the laws that protect minors’ safety is irresponsible and illegal.”
Upcoming webinar is for employers, teens, parents, school reps
As part of its effort to combat violations, the Wage and Hour Division is holding a webinar regarding child labor regulations on April 26 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. EDT for employers, teen workers and their parents, school representatives and other stakeholders. This webinar is free but registration is required.
The webinar includes a panel discussion with representatives from the Wage and Hour Division; Tennessee State Department of Labor; Safety, Health, Environmental Services at Georgia Tech; Georgia Restaurant Association and the Consulate of Guatemala.
“The U.S. Department of Labor is determined to prevent child labor violations and to stop employers from jeopardizing the safety of young workers or harming their ability to keep up with their schooling,” Coria said. “We encourage employers, young workers and their parents and others to contact us with questions about federal child labor laws.”
For more information about federal child labor laws contact the Wage and Hour Division by phone at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or visit its YouthRules! website.