News Release

U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Georgia Contractor Paying $58,838 Penalty for Child Labor Violation

OCHLOCKNEE, GA – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Rite-A-Way Mowers LLC – a Buena Vista, Georgia-based mowing contractor – has paid a civil penalty of $58,383 violating federal child labor laws when it employed a 15-year-old to operate a power-driven weed cutter. The minor drowned while clearing brush along Georgia's Ochlockonee River.

WHD's investigation found the employer violated the Fair Labor Standards Act's (FLSA) child labor requirements when it employed the teen to operate equipment prohibited for use by workers less than 16-years-old. Regulations specifically prohibit employers from employing 14- and 15-year olds in occupations that involve operating any power-driven machinery, including weed-cutters. Investigators also determined that Rite-A-Way Mowers employed the minor to work outside of the restricted hours allowed for 14- and 15-year-old workers, and for more hours than allowed by law when school is in session. At the time of the incident, school was in session in the district the minor would have attended.

"This case offers a sobering and sad reminder of the importance of the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and why the safety of young workers remains a priority for the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division," said Wage and Hour Division District Director Eric Williams, in Atlanta, Georgia. "Employers must fully understand their obligations to ensure minors work in a safe environment. We encourage those companies that employ minors to review child labor laws, and to contact us for further assistance. This tragic death underscores why compliance is not optional."

The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, confidential calls, or in-person visits to local WHD offices.

For more information about the FLSA, child labor, and other laws enforced by the WHD, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd.

WHD's mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation's workforce. WHD enforces Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to Federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

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Agency
Wage and Hour Division
Date
September 20, 2019
Release Number
19-1647-ATL
Contact: Michael D'Aquino
Contact: Eric R. Lucero
Phone Number
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