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News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


Employment Standards Administration

ESA Press Release: Utah Grocery Chain Has Agreed to Pay $650,000 Fine for Child Labor Violations [11/09/1998]

For more information call: (202) 693-0023

A Utah-based grocery chain with 172 stores in eight states will pay $650,000 in fines for violations of federal child labor laws. Smith's Food and Drug Centers of Salt Lake City agreed to pay the fine and refrain from future violations.

The U.S. Department of Labor found 745 teenagers employed illegally at Smith's stores in Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Most of the violations involved hours worked and 25 involved doing work considered hazardous for minors to do.

"Working too much too soon jeopardizes a child's future," Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said. "Our laws put limits on how much 14 and 15-year-olds may work so they can focus on their primary job -- getting their schoolwork done. The law also restricts the kind of work they may do so they don't get hurt or killed. All of us, including employers, must do our part to insure the future of our young people."

Most of the violations were at stores located in Utah. Twenty-two of the minors doing hazardous work were loading cardboard paper balers, work prohibited in most situations for anyone under 18. Inexperienced workers have been caught in these machines which stores use to crush and compact cardboard boxes.

Under the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 14 and 15-year-olds may not work during school hours, or before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. They may not work more than three hours on a school day, eight hours on a nonschool day and no more than 20 hours in a school week.

Smith's voluntarily entered into a consent judgment with the Labor Department which was approved by the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on Friday. As part of the agreement, all employees will be trained in child labor laws, computer payroll systems will highlight hours worked by employees under 16, and minor workers will wear color-coded badges so store managers can ensure that they perform only the jobs and work the hours permitted.

"With this agreement Smith's Food and Drug Centers can assure the hundreds of young people who work in its stores that their rights will be better protected," Herman said. "We expect all employers to protect minors at work."

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

Employment Standards Administration
November 9, 1998
Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number