Not Child’s Work: Department of Labor finds Florida roofing contractor’s work practices endangered minor, jeopardized workers’ safety, full wages
ORLANDO, FL – It’s likely that the decisions Juan Felipe Gomez Toro made one day in February 2022 turned out to be more costly to his Lake Mary roofing contracting company than he might have imagined.
An inspection of a JGN Services LLC worksite in Orlando by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration after a 15-year-old minor fell approximately 20 feet from the roof of a two-story home in Orlando determined the contractor’s failure to ensure the use of federally required fall protection led the teenager to suffer severe head and spinal injuries, and spend six days in a hospital to begin his recovery.
In addition to finding the employer failed to install a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest system for employees doing roofing work, OSHA determined JGN Services allowed the improper use of ladders and did not train workers to recognize fall hazards. OSHA issued the employer citations for three serious violations with $8,702 in penalties in July 2022.
“Falls in construction continues to be a leading cause, and maybe one of the most preventable, for severe injury and death in the workplace,” said OSHA Area Office Director Sarah Carle in Orlando, Florida. “Employers must take every precaution – such as using fall protection and training workers to recognize hazards – to make sure their employees end their shifts safely.”
After learning the injured worker’s age, OSHA referred its finding to the department’s Wage and Hour Division, which enforces federal child labor regulations.
The Wage and Hour Division’s investigation revealed that JGN violated three 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, engage in any work that requires the use of ladders or scaffolds and use any power-driven woodworking machines. The division also found the employer allowed the 15-year-old to work more than three hours on school days and more than 18 hours during school weeks and failed to keep on record the minor’s date of birth – additional child labor violations.
The division assessed JGN Services a $55,841 civil penalty under the Child Labor Enhanced Penalty Program.
During its review, the division also determined the employer had misclassified some workers as independent contractors and did not pay employees overtime rates for hours over 40 hours in a workweek. JGN Services also failed to pay other employees for all hours worked, resulting in minimum wage and overtime FLSA violations. As a result, the division recovered $106,600 in back wages and liquidated damages for 18 workers to resolve these violations.
“This is a case where an employer’s very poor decision caused a 15-year-old boy great harm, and denied many workers all of their hard-earned wages,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Wildalí De Jesús in Orlando, Florida. “With more than $50,000 in child labor penalties, and payment of more than $100,000 in back wages, JGN Services has seen how costly the consequences for failing to respect its employees’ rights to a safe workplace and to be paid their legal wages can be.”
The injured boy is one of 688 minors the division found employed in hazardous occupations during investigations in fiscal year 2022, the highest annual count since fiscal year 2011.
The Wage and Hour Division offers multiple tools to help employers understand their responsibilities and offers confidential compliance assistance to anyone with questions about how to comply with the law, by calling the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). The department can speak with callers in more than 200 languages. Visit the agency’s website to learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including information about protections for young workers on the department’s YouthRules! website.
The division also maintains a search tool to learn if you are owed back wages collected by the division. Help ensure hours worked and pay are accurate by downloading the department’s Android and iOS Timesheet App for free, available in English and Spanish.
Visit OSHA’s website for information on developing a workplace safety and health program. Employers can also contact the agency for information about OSHA’s compliance assistance resources and for free help on complying with OSHA standards.
Read this news release En Español.