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Press Releases

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 09-1129-DEN

Date: 

Sept. 29, 2009

Contact: 

Rich Kulczewski

Phone: 

303-844-1302

U.S. Department of Labor assesses more than $500,000 in civil money penalties to Orem, Utah-based marketing company for child labor violations


Child labor penalties among highest ever assessed for employment of 1,400 minors in Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming

OREM, Utah -- Western Wats Center Inc., an Orem-based market research company with locations throughout Utah and six other states, has been assessed $552,750 in civil money penalties following a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation that disclosed violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) child labor regulations. These penalties are among the highest ever assessed by the department.

Investigators found that the employer violated child labor provisions by employing 1,482 minors contrary to hours and time standards. With the exception of three 13-year-olds, minors were age 14 and 15, and primarily employed as interviewers at the company’s phone centers in Orem, Logan and Spanish Fork, Utah; Casa Grande, Arizona; Pocatello and Rexburg, Idaho; Independence and Pittsburg, Kansas; Wayne, Nebraska; Brookings, South Dakota; and Laramie, Wyoming.

“This investigation reflects the Department of Labor’s ongoing effort to strengthen workplace protections that promote the safety and well-being of young workers,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “By complying with these provisions, employers can help working teens enjoy safe, positive, early work experiences that can be so important to their career and personal development.”

The FLSA’s child labor provisions are designed to protect 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. Those 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. Other federal and state laws may have higher standards. When these apply, the more stringent standard must be observed.

This investigation was conducted by the Wage and Hour Division’s Salt Lake City District Office, 150 East Social Hall Ave., Suite 695, Salt Lake City, Utah; telephone 801-524-5706.

For more information about the FLSA, call the Department of Labor’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or contact Lee Ann Dunbar, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Salt Lake City office, at 801-524-5400. Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.wagehour.dol.gov and http://www.youthrules.dol.gov.

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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.