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Press Releases

U.S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division
Release Number: 09-1464-CHI

Date: 

Dec. 3, 2009

Contact: 

Scott Allen or Brad Mitchell

Phone: 

312-353-6976

US Labor Department fines Walt’s Food Center $55,000 for child labor violations involving 23 children in 6 grocery stores


CHICAGO -- The U.S. Department of Labor has assessed a total of $55,000 in civil money penalties against Walter Lagestee Inc., doing business as Walt’s Food Center in Illinois and Indiana, for violations of the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) following investigations by the department’s Wage and Hour Division.

Wage and Hour Division investigators determined that for a two-year period, Walt’s Food Center grocery store allowed 22 employees under the age of 18 to load or operate paper balers at six of the store locations, and allowed a minor under age 16 to work beyond the hours and times permitted under the FLSA. The violations were found at the Walt’s Food Centers in Tinley Park, Ill., Frankfort, Ill., Crete, Ill., South Holland, Ill., Homewood, Ill., and in Dyer, Ind.

“Every year, young workers are injured while performing prohibited work,” said Thomas Gauza, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s district office in Chicago. “Our goal is to foster safer workplaces and prevent injuries that can change the lives of young workers. Operating paper balers can be exceedingly dangerous and is a violation of federal hazardous orders, established by the secretary of labor, as work prohibited for persons under the age of 18.”

A consent judgment was filed in the U. S. District Court in Chicago ordering that the company pay $55,000 in civil money penalties and that the corporation and its officers are permanently enjoined from future child labor violations.

In fiscal year 2008, the Wage and Hour Division found a total of 4,734 minors illegally employed. The majority of child labor violations occurred when workers under the age of 16 worked too many hours, too late at night, or too early in the morning. In total, 2,785 minors were employed in violation of the child labor hours standards. Hazardous Occupation Order (HO) violations were found in 41 percent of the cases with child labor violations. Violations of HO No. 12 (paper balers) were the most common type of HO violation found. The Wage and Hour Division assessed over $4.2 million in child labor civil money penalties in fiscal year 2008.

For more information on the youth employment laws, visit the Labor Department’s Web site at http://www.youthrules.dol.gov or call the Wage Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).

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