US Department of Labor investigation finds Tennessee contractor violated child labor laws related to teenage worker’s fatal fall
NASHVILLE, TN – A 16-year-old boy doing roof construction atop a hotel work site more than 11 stories above the ground climbed over a barrier at the roof line and attempted to jump onto a power-driven hoisting device next to the building. The teen missed the platform, slipped through a gap between the scaffolding and the building and fell about 160 feet to his death.
A U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation into the incident found the teenager’s employer, Stover and Sons Contractors Inc. – a Madison construction contractor – violated two hazardous occupation orders of the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The orders ban employers from allowing minors under age 18 to perform roofing activities or to operate or ride on a power-driven hoisting apparatus. Further investigation determined the employer also violated child labor laws when it allowed the boy to work more than 8 hours a day and more than 40 hours per week when he was 15 years of age.
The division assessed Stover and Sons a $122,364 civil penalty under the Child Labor Enhanced Penalty Program. The program permits the division to assess penalties of up to $59,413 for each child labor violation related to the death or serious injury of a worker under age 18 for violations that occurred on or before Jan. 15, 2021.
“Every worker’s death is a tragedy, yet the loss of a teenager so needlessly is especially hard to understand. Child labor laws were enacted to protect children from being put at risk in truly dangerous work conditions,” said Wage and Hour Division Acting District Director Kenneth Stripling, in Nashville, Tennessee. “The Wage and Hour Division is determined to enforce child labor laws to keep young workers safe, and to hold employers accountable for their failures to comply with the law.”
An investigation by the Tennessee Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has jurisdiction for the case’s workplace safety portion, led the agency to issue citations to the employer. Stover and Sons is currently contesting the penalties.
In addition to the child labor violations, the Wage and Hour Division also found the employer failed to pay overtime to employees when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, another violation of the FLSA. The employer paid $38,462 in back wages to 55 workers to resolve this issue.
Stover and Sons Contracting Inc. performs exterior stucco and insulation finishes on buildings in Nashville and the surrounding area. The employer subcontracted work on the hotel project to Cortes Plastering, who provided the workers that were overseen by Stover and Sons.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.
Read this news release En Español.