SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Department of Labor is stepping up its efforts to identify child labor violations in the Salt Lake City area as the summer nears.
“We’ve definitely seen an uptick in the number of child labor violations, all across the board, we’re seeing it at retail, restaurant, food service, even construction,” said Kevin Hunt, District Director of Salt Lake City Wage & Hour Division.
There are hour restrictions for teenagers between the ages of 14 and 15. Teenagers between the ages of 16 and 17 years old don’t have hours restrictions but they still have hazardous occupations.
This means there are certain jobs they aren’t allowed to perform, like operating a trash compactor or an air fryer.
In these recent investigations, Meisterguys LLC, who operates Five Guys in Ogden, violated several rules including hour restrictions and operating a trash compactor and manual air fryer
They were ultimately fined and paid over $17,000 in civil money penalties.
Kent’s Market, operated by PCO-KTA LLC in Plain City, was fined over $6,000 for violating hazardous occupation and hours rules. Mammoth Holdings LLC, doing business as Wiggy Wash Corp., violated hours regulations, getting fined over $5,000.
Hunt says they do investigations for two reasons. Either they’ve received a complaint from the public or, the agency initiates investigations.
“Where we use the data that we’ve gathered over the years from our investigations and then we can target specific industries if we see a trend going on and we can take a preventative approach to it, and help eliminate these violations,” said Hunt.
He says some employers they confront didn’t know they were in violation.
“A lot of differences with state and federal laws specifically with child labor, so sometimes people will think 'I am following the state guidelines,' but the federal guidelines might be more strict,” said Hunt.
Whichever one is more strict, is the one the employer should go off of.
“We don’t want employers to feel like were out to get them, we want them to be aware of what the rules are and what guidelines they need to follow,” said Hunt.
For businesses issued a civil money penalty, they can either pay the fine or try to appeal it.