Over $128,500 in Penalties for Grocery Stores in Iowa and Nebraska for Child Labor Violations

Monday, August 5, 2013

A multiyear enforcement initiative conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, that focused on grocery stores in Iowa and Nebraska, found widespread violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's child labor provisions. Since fiscal year 2011, Wage and Hour Division investigations have disclosed child labor violations among 28 grocery stores throughout the two states. Civil money penalties total more than $128,500.

Significant child labor violations were found in grocery stores operating under the names of Fareway Stores Inc. and Hy-Vee — two of the largest grocery store chains in the area. These violations included allowing minors to perform prohibited hazardous occupations, such as loading and/or operating power-driving paper balers, meat slicers, bakery machines and operating a motor vehicle, in violation of the FLSA.

As a result of the division's enforcement and compliance assistance efforts, Fareway Stores Inc. has signed a settlement agreement with the department, committing to ensure future compliance with the FLSA at all of its present and future establishments. The agreement includes specific measures the company will take to prevent future child labor violations, including training managers about prohibited hazardous occupations for minors, posting FLSA information for employee awareness, establishing an email contact for reporting potential violations and implementing a new policy to ensure its employment of minors is in compliance with the child labor provisions of the law.

The division's Des Moines District Office also conducted a seminar at the Hy-Vee company headquarters to provide managers and staff with compliance assistance about the FLSA's child labor requirements and how to ensure future compliance with the law.

The FLSA establishes a minimum age of 18 for workers in those nonagricultural occupations that the secretary of labor finds and declares to be particularly hazardous for 16- and 17-year-old workers or detrimental to their health or well-being. These rules must be followed unless a specific exemption applies.

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