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News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


Employment Standards Administration

ESA Press Release: Blueberry Grower Fined Following the Death of Nine-year-old Worker [10/23/1998]

For more information call: 202-693-0023

Bowerman Blueberries, Ltd., of Holland, Mich., was fined $11,175 for violations of the federal child labor laws that led to the death of a 9-year-old Grand Rapids boy, the Labor Department announced today. The minor, who was employed to pick blueberries, was accidentally run over by a truck driven by his father in July. The boy and another child hired by the grower were below the minimum age for employment established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

" This child's death emphasizes why we must stop child labor in agriculture," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. "In the fields, very young children are exposed to life-threatening hazards. This boy's family has experienced a terrible tragedy and my heart goes out to the father especially. I want them to know that we are working to make sure this does not happen to other families."

The violations were discovered following an investigation conducted by the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division. Bernard Anderson, assistant secretary of labor for employment standards, which oversees the Wage and Hour Division, said this fine sends a strong message to employers who violate the law. "We place a high priority on investigations of child labor and will continue to do so," Anderson said.

Generally, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that young people be at least 12 years of age before they may be employed as hired farmworkers. It also requires that those farmworkers who are 12 or 13 years old provide written parental consent or work only on farms where a parent is also employed. These minors may only work outside of school hours and in nonhazardous jobs. Different child labor standards exist for nonagricultural employment.

The FLSA permits a fine of up to $10,000 for each employee who is the subject of a child labor violation. The maximum penalty is usually assessed when the violation contributes to the serious injury or death of a child. For more information about the child labor provisions or the FLSA, contact the Wage and Hour Division office listed in the blue pages of your local telephone directory.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employment Standards Administration
October 23, 1998
Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number