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Nearly 40 Michigan businesses fined for violating wage, child labor laws

Fries at McDonald's (Photo by Christopher Jue/Getty Images)
Fries at McDonald's (Photo by Christopher Jue/Getty Images)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Nearly 40 Michigan businesses violated wage and child labor laws, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD).

WHD found violations of the wage and child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) at 38 Western Michigan fast food restaurants and manufacturing facilities during an education and enforcement effort to raise awareness and improve compliance with child labor laws in the region.

In all, the initiative assessed more than $94,000 in civil money penalties at restaurants and manufacturing facilities that WHD investigated in the Grand Rapids, Holland, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Muskegon, and Traverse City metropolitan areas.

Among their findings, investigators discovered:

  • More than 100 minors, 14- and 15-years-old, employed outside permissible work hours;
  • More than 30 minors, 14- and 15-years-old, performing work prohibited by occupational standards for that age group and;
  • 10 minors, from 15- to 17-years old, 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 more than $33,000 in back wages and liquidated damages owed by employers 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.”

For more information about child labor standards, the FLSA, and other laws enforced by WHD, contact the Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the Division.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets wage, hours worked, and safety requirements for minors (individuals under age 18) working in jobs covered by the statute. The rules vary depending upon the particular age of the minor and the particular job involved. As a general rule, the FLSA sets 14 years of age as the minimum age for employment, and limits the number of hours worked by minors under the age of 16.

Also, the FLSA generally prohibits the employment of a minor in work declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor (for example, work involving excavation, driving, and the operation of many types of power-driven equipment). The FLSA contains a number of requirements that apply only to particular types of jobs (for example, agricultural work or the operation of motor vehicles) and many exceptions to the general rules (for example, work by a minor for his or her parents). Each state also has its own laws relating to employment, including the employment of minors. If state law and the FLSA overlap, the law which is more protective of the minor will apply.


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