Federal investigation of teen worker’s fall from New Castle store roof finds Georgia contractor violated child labor, overtime, worker safety laws
NEW CASTLE, PA – A federal investigation into why a 17-year-old worker – who fell 24 feet from the roof of a New Castle, Pennsylvania, home improvement store in October 2022 – was doing work that violated child labor laws led to a wider review into how the roofing contractor failed to pay 30 employees their full wages and exposed other workers to dangerous fall hazards.
The U.S. Department of Labor found JVS Roofing of Jonesboro, Georgia, hired the teenager for roofing work, an occupation defined as hazardous for young workers by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The young worker sustained minor injuries after the fall.
Further investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division into the employer’s pay practices found JVS misclassified 30 workers as independent contractors. By doing so, the employer illegally exempted them from overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. The division also learned JVS failed to keep full and accurate payroll records.
The division recovered $92,640 in back wages for the affected workers, and the department has received the employer’s payment of a $6,399 civil money penalty assessed for the child labor violation.
“JVS Roofing ignored federal child labor laws and hired an underage employee to do prohibited roofing work,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director John DuMont in Pittsburgh. “In reviewing this incident, our investigators then determined that the employer shortchanged workers an average of $3,000 per employee in earned overtime by misclassifying them as independent contractors.”
A subsequent investigation by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found JVS Roofing failed to provide employees with required fall protection, did not provide related training and allowed employees to work without a fall protection system in place.
OSHA issued the company a citation for four serious safety violations and proposed $16,500 in penalties, which the company has paid.
“Putting a child to work on a roof is irresponsible and a violation of federal safety laws,” said OSHA Area Director Brendan Claybaugh in Erie, Pennsylvania. “Fall hazards are well-known by employers and they remain a leading cause of serious injury and deaths in the construction industry. There is simply no place for such reckless behavior.”
Mid-South Contractors – operating as Mid-South Roof Systems in Forest Park, Georgia – subcontracted JVS Roofing to perform roofing work atop the Lowe’s store in New Castle at the time of the teen’s injuries.
The injured teen worker 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.
Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including about its 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.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 123 fatalities in the roofing industry in 2021, 99 of which were from falls, slips or trips. OSHA’s stop falls website offers safety information and video presentations in English and Spanish to teach workers about fall hazards and proper safety procedures.