Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Department of Labor takes legal action against oil and gas well servicing business in Hobbs, NM, following death of a minor
HOBBS, N.M. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against MWS Management Inc. and its president, Harold Hicks, following an investigation that found violations of child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to secure civil money penalties totaling $11,000.
MWS Management provides oil and natural gas well servicing in Lubbock and Midland-Odessa, Texas, as well as in Hobbs.
“This company unlawfully employed a worker under the age of 18 who performed duties that included prohibited work with hoisting equipment,” said Patty Davidson, the department’s Wage and Hour Division’s district director in Albuquerque, N.M. “Civil money penalties totaling $11,000 reflect the highest allowable amount under law in effect at the time of the minor’s death, which occurred in 2007.”
An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division in Albuquerque found that MWS Management, doing business as Mesa Well Servicing LP in Hobbs, employed a 17-year-old to work as a floorhand. The worker was fatally struck by a falling traveling block as he sat loosening flange bolts.
As of May 20, 2008, each child labor violation that results in the death or serious injury of a minor can be subject to a $50,000 penalty. The penalty may be doubled to $100,000 for each violation found to be willful or repeated. This increase in penalties reflects a change in the FLSA and the department’s special emphasis on protecting young workers from working in high-hazard conditions in the workplace.
Employees under the age of 18 may not work in any occupation deemed hazardous by the secretary of labor, including assisting in the operation of a hoist or derrick. Employees engaged in most oil and gas well drilling and servicing operations must be at least 18 years of age. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records as well as date of birth records for any employee under age 19.
For more information about the FLSA, call the Wage and Hour Division’s Albuquerque office at 505-248-6100 or the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available on the Internet at www.wagehour.dol.gov.
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