Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
Tennessee Timber and Lumber violates child labor, overtime laws
Ashland City employer pays penalties and back wages following Labor Department investigation
ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. -- Tennessee Timber and Lumber Inc. in Ashland City has paid $7,800 in civil money penalties and $3,739 in back wages following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division that found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor and overtime provisions.
Investigators found the sawmill employed a minor, who was 14 years old at the beginning of his employment, to operate a chain saw, remove lumber from a conveyor and load scrap wood into a wood chipper in violation of FLSA’s Hazardous Occupations Orders No. 4 and No. 14. Those orders prohibit the employment of those under the age of 18 in the operation of any sawmill, and specifically prohibit minors from being employed in any occupation involving the operation of a chain saw or wood chipper.
Additionally, the investigation disclosed that Tennessee Timber and Lumber failed to pay required overtime to employees. The employer paid straight time rates for hours worked beyond 40 per week, rather than time and one-half employees’ regular rates of pay for those hours, as required. The employer falsified its payroll records to show payment of double time for overtime hours, but recorded only half of the overtime hours actually worked. Fifteen employees have been paid $3,739 in back wages.
“It is against the law to put the health and well-being of minors at risk by requiring them to perform prohibited, hazardous jobs,” said Sandra Sanders, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Nashville District Office. “The Wage and Hour Division is committed to keeping young employees safe in the workplace and to ensuring employees are paid a premium for their overtime work when they are entitled to it. This case should serve as notice to other employers who may be employing minors in similar hazardous occupations or denying workers their rightful wages.”
The company has paid the penalties and back wages and has agreed to comply with the FLSA in the future.
The FLSA establishes an 18-year minimum age for those nonagricultural occupations that the secretary of labor finds and declares to be particularly hazardous for 16- and 17-year-old minors, 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://youthrules.dol.gov/.
The FLSA also requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. In general, hours worked includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal work activity to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Additionally, the law requires that accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment be maintained.
The division’s Nashville office can be reached at 615-781-5343. Information on the FLSA and other wage laws is available by calling the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) and at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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.