Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Labor Department fines Louisiana Piggly Wiggly grocery store nearly $35,000 for illegally requiring 52 minors to perform hazardous jobs
Almost $2,000 in back wages also recovered for 26 cashiers and stock workers
BUNKIE, La. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has collected $34,485 in civil money penalties from Bellyon Inc., doing business as a Piggly Wiggly supermarket chain store in Bunkie, and owners Paul Bellow, Marvin J. Lyons and Sunny Briant Lyons for requiring 52 minors to perform hazardous jobs, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Additionally, the department recovered $1,960 in back wages for 26 other workers who were denied proper compensation, in violation of the FLSA’s minimum wage provisions.
“The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that young workers in this country have safe early work experiences, and that all workers are paid full and fair wages,” said Cynthia Watson, Southwest regional administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. “The penalties imposed against Bellyon demonstrate that we will use all available enforcement tools to hold accountable violators who exploit or endanger workers.”
Following its investigation, the Wage and Hour Division’s New Orleans District Office found that 52 Piggly Wiggly employees ages 15 to 17 were required to operate hazardous equipment such as scrap paper balers, in violation of Hazardous Occupation Order No. 12 of the federal child labor provisions of the FLSA. The employer has paid $34,485 in civil money penalties for these violations. Bellyon Inc. and its owners agreed to fully comply with the FLSA in the future, and have committed to ensuring that all store supervisors and employees are made aware of the applicable child labor standards, including hazardous occupation prohibitions.
Teen workers are permitted to take trash to the site of a compactor or baler and set it on the ground, but workers under the age of 18 are generally prohibited from actually dumping the trash into the compactor or baler. There is a limited exception in the law that allows 16- and 17-year-olds to load, but not operate or unload, certain paper box compactors and scrap paper balers. In this case, the exception requirements were not met. The scrap paper baler did not have all required postings or notices, and the machine did not have an on-and-off switch incorporating a key-lock system.
Additionally, 26 current and former cashiers and stock workers were required to pay for cash register shortages from their own wages. These deductions reduced the employees’ hourly rate of pay below the federal minimum wage rate in violation of the FLSA, amounting to $1,960 in back wages owed to that group.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records.
For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243), or the division’s New Orleans office at 504-589-6171. Information is also available on the internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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