Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Labor Department fines logging company maximum penalty for employing underage worker in hazardous occupation that resulted in his death
WAYNESBORO, Tenn. -- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has cited Randy Morris Logging of Waterloo, Ala., with the maximum penalty allowed by the Fair Labor Standards Act for employing a minor in a prohibited hazardous occupation that caused the young worker’s death.
In March 2009, the company hired the individual for logging work even though he was under age 18. The hiring violated the FLSA’s Hazardous Occupations Order Number 4, which prohibits individuals under 18 from performing most work in logging, forest firefighting, forest fire prevention, timber tract operations, forestry service and sawmilling. The worker was killed in May 2010 when a tree fell on him while he was logging near Waynesboro.
“The Wage and Hour Division is focused on protecting young workers who are vulnerable to exploitation due to their general lack of experience and knowledge of employment laws,” said Nettie Lewis, acting director of the division’s Nashville District Office. “This tragic incident is the third since 2002 involving minors doing logging work in Tennessee.”
The division began its investigation after being notified of the death by the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which initially responded to the fatality. That state agency and Tennessee’s Labor Standards Division provided information for and aided the federal Labor Department investigation.
Investigators found that the company failed to obtain dates of birth for employees and avoided listing them individually in the company’s payroll records. They also learned that the company replaced the deceased worker by employing another underage worker in the same prohibited occupation.
Randy Morris Logging has received total penalties of $57,750 for the violation. The maximum penalty allowed by law, $50,000, was levied for employing a minor whose death was caused by his or her employment in a hazardous occupation. A $7,750 penalty was assessed for employing a second minor in a hazardous occupation.
The FLSA prohibits workers under the age of 18 from being employed in any nonagricultural occupations that the secretary of labor has declared to be hazardous. For more information on youth employment laws, visit the department’s YouthRules! website at http://www.youthrules.dol.gov or call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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