HEBRON, Ky. (FOX 56) — A Kentucky warehouse and distribution center was ordered to stop illegally employing children.
The U.S. Department of Labor said in August the department’s Wage and Hour Division discovered Win. IT America Inc. in Hebron was employing two children, 11 and 13, for months.
Win. IT America violated several provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act when it employed one child as a forklift driver, a hazardous occupation for workers under 18, and assigned the other child to pick orders in the warehouse, a prohibited occupation for anyone under 16.
“In addition, the company employed both children for more hours than legally allowed and violated federal regulations that forbid employing workers under 14 years of age in non-agricultural occupations,” the department said in a news release.
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The distribution center was ordered to stop employing children illegally and to not violate federal child labor laws in the future. In addition to the order, Win. IT America was ordered to pay $30,276 in civil money penalties and to hire a third-party consultant to provide semiannual compliance training for all management personnel for a period of three years.
“Businesses must comply with the federal child labor regulations,” said Regional Solicitor Tremelle Howard in Atlanta. “Federal law ensures young workers can benefit by gaining valuable work experience without endangering their safety or hampering their education.”
The Department of Labor said in 2022 it found child labor violations involving 3,876 children nationwide, a more than 60% increase over the past five years. The department addressed those violations, assessing employers over $4.3 million in civil money penalties.
“When we find child labor violations, the Department of Labor will not hesitate to use all enforcement tools available to compel compliance, including stopping the shipment of goods created and produced while the business was breaking the law to do so,” Howard added.
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“The Wage and Hour Division is committed to combating the alarming increase in child labor violations in the U.S.,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Juan Coria in Atlanta. “Employers are responsible for taking all appropriate actions to verify that they are not illegally employing children. When they fail to meet these obligations, we will act swiftly to hold them accountable and protect our nation’s youth.”
Child labor laws can vary by state, but the Department of Labor provides information on what type of work is prohibited for children under 18.
In July, the department announced it was cracking down on child labor violations even as multiple states have taken steps to loosen regulations around teenagers in the workplace.
At least 11 states have sought to make it easier to get minors into the workforce, including Arkansas and Iowa. Iowa moved to allow teenagers to work in meat packing facilities and for those as young as 16 to bartend, while Arkansas did away with a requirement that children under 16 must get permission from the state government to work.
“Child labor is an issue that gets to the heart of who we are as a country and who we want to be. Like the President, we believe that any child working in a dangerous or hazardous environment is one child too many,” acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su said.
The Wage and Hour Division offers confidential compliance assistance to anyone, regardless of where they are from, with questions about how to comply with the law by calling the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-487-9243.