Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
US Labor Department investigates Big Fireworks, finds minors working in hazardous jobs and more than $55,000 due in back wages for 119 workers
Company assessed $4,650 in civil monetary penalties for child labor violations
LANSING, Mich. -- American Eagle Superstore Inc., and its subsidiary Big Primo LLC, both doing business as Big Fireworks, agreed to pay 119 employees $55,891 after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found overtime and minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act for employees working in Michigan, South Carolina and Indiana. American Eagle also paid a civil money penalty for violations of the child labor provisions of the FLSA.
“It is critical for all employers to learn about and comply with the child labor laws that keep our youth safe on the job. Allowing minors to work in hazardous occupations puts their safety and their future at risk” said Mary O’Rourke, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s district office in Grand Rapids. “The Wage and Hour Division is committed to protecting the safety of young workers, and ensuring that their time in the workforce is valuable and safe. We are also committed to protecting workers’ rights under the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA.”
Lansing-based American Eagle Superstore, and its subsidiary, operate five fireworks outlets and 20 seasonal firework tents as Big Fireworks in Michigan and Indiana. The company also operates two additional warehouses located in Lansing and Fort Mill, S.C. Two additional subsidiaries, Rt 83 Investments LLC, which operates as Odyssey Fireworks, were also included in the investigation.
The investigation found that the company violated hazardous orders regulating child labor when it allowed minors to operate forklifts and work in warehouses where fireworks were stored. The company and its subsidiary also failed to pay warehouse, retail store and tent employees at time and one-half their hourly rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week, instead paying straight time or a salary for all hours worked. The fireworks retailer improperly classified some employees as exempt from overtime requirements, and paid these employees fixed salaries, without regard to the number of hours they worked. American Eagle also failed to record and pay for all hours of work.
American Eagle Superstore has agreed to pay back wages found due for employees in Michigan, South Caroline, and Indiana.
The FLSA establishes a minimum age of 18 for workers in those nonagricultural occupations that the secretary of labor finds and declares to be particularly hazardous for younger workers. A list of hazardous occupations prohibited for minors is available at www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/docs/haznonag.asp. Additional information on child labor rules can be found at www.youthrules.dol.gov.
The FLSA provides an exemption from both minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for individuals employed in bona fide executive, administrative, professional and outside sales positions, as well as certain computer employees. To qualify for an exemption, employees generally must meet certain tests regarding their job duties and be paid on a salary basis at not less than $455 per week. Job titles do not determine exempt status. For an exemption to apply, an employee’s specific job duties and salary must meet all the requirements of the department’s regulations.
The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also are required to maintain accurate time and payroll records.
For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or visit www.dol.gov/whd.
Seth D. Harris, acting secretary of labor, United States Department of Labor v. MPW Industrial Services Inc. and Monte Black
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