Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Department of Labor fines Omaha, Neb., food processing plant $100,000 for child labor violations
Penalties issued after 17-year-old killed while illegally operating forklift
OMAHA, Neb. -- Progressive Protein LLC, an Omaha-based food processing plant, has been fined $100,000 in civil money penalties following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division that disclosed violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor regulations.
The investigation was initiated following the May 2009 death of a 17-year-old employee who was killed while operating a forklift. The company filed a timely exception to the assessment of civil money penalties. And as a result, the case has now been referred to the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges for the purpose of conducting a hearing into these violations.
“This tragic accident points out the importance of having a proactive enforcement program in the area of youth employment,” said Michael Staebell, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Des Moines, Iowa. “The Wage and Hour Division will continue to strongly enforce workplace protections that promote the safety and well-being of young workers.”
The investigation, conducted by the division’s Des Moines office, found that the employer allowed the minor to operate a forklift in violation of the child labor regulations that prohibit workers under the age of 18 from working in hazardous occupations.
Congress amended the FLSA in 2008 to permit the assessment of a civil money penalty of up to $50,000 for each violation that causes the death or serious injury of an employee under the age of 18. The civil money penalty assessed Progressive Protein falls under these new provisions. The company has appealed the fine.
The FLSA’s child labor provisions protect young workers by limiting the types of jobs and the number of hours they may work. Children under 14 years of age may not be employed in non-agricultural occupations covered by the FLSA. Individuals 14 and 15 years of age may be employed outside of school hours in a variety of non-manufacturing and non-hazardous jobs for limited periods of time and under specified conditions. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds may be employed for unlimited hours in any occupation other than those declared hazardous by the secretary of labor.
For more information about the FLSA and child labor laws, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd or call the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).
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