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Press Releases

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 13-888-KAN

Date: 

Aug. 1, 2013

Contact: 

Scott Allen or Rhonda Burke

Phone: 

(312) 353-6976

US Labor Department assesses Iowa and Nebraska grocery stores more than $128,500 in child labor penalties


Major grocery store chain signs settlement agreement to prevent future child labor violations

DES MOINES, Iowa -- 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.

“Early work experiences can be rewarding for young workers and can provide great opportunities to learn important job skills that will be valuable in the workforce. Unfortunately, the age and lack of experience of these young workers can leave them vulnerable to mistreatment and, in some cases, hazardous conditions,” said Michael Staebell, the division’s district director in Des Moines. “The Wage and Hour Division is committed to protecting the safety and welfare of minors employed in grocery stores by conducting investigations. We continue to collaborate with stakeholders, such as the Iowa and Nebraska Grocers Association, to promote awareness and compliance with federal child labor requirements.”

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. More information on child labor rules can be found at http://www.youthrules.dol.gov. Information about hazardous occupations orders is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs43.htm.

For more information about hazardous orders for child labor, the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or visit http://www.dol.gov/whd.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America’s employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.