SALT LAKE CITY — A southern Utah-based company has been hit with a nearly $400,000 fine for using child labor on work sites.
The Hildale-based Reliance Electric, Inc., was found to have used eight children in projects in Utah and Oklahoma, the U.S. Department of Labor said, including a 13-year-old who was found to have been operating a forklift on a job site. On another work project, a 17-year-old was operating a circular saw, the federal government said.
In other instances, the Labor Department said five children were not paid at all for their work and 56 other people were underpaid.
“Illegally employing minors in hazardous jobs that are prohibited by child labor laws needlessly places young workers at risk of injury, and will not be tolerated. The Wage and Hour Division is committed to keeping young employees safe in the workplace,” said Betty Campbell, acting regional administrator for Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest, in a statement issued by the Labor Department.
Federal officials said the company agreed to pay back wages, damages and penalties for the violations amounting to more than $376,000. Reliance Electric also agreed to take steps to comply with minimum wage, overtime, and child labor laws.
The company is based in Hildale, which also serves as the headquarters of the Fundamentalist LDS Church, a polygamous sect on the Utah-Arizona border. The U.S. Department of Labor has been involved in a high-profile lawsuit against another company involving children put to work in a pecan farm allegedly under orders from FLDS leaders.