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FLSA - Child Labor Rules Advisor


The Department of Labor (DOL) encourages, and in fact relies on employers to voluntarily comply with the FLSA, including the child labor rules. However, the FLSA does provide several enforcement tools. DOL uses these tools, when necessary, to compel compliance with the FLSA and its child labor regulations.

The FLSA gives DOL the authority to investigate possible violations of its rules, including the power to examine an employer's records and to interview employees to determine if the employer is in compliance with the Act. When violations are found, an investigator will explain the violations to the employer and seek agreement for future compliance. But DOL also may take any of the following actions:

Employers may also wish to look at records as a defense to see how to avoid unintentional violations of the child labor rules.

Civil Money Penalties

Employers may be subject to a civil money penalty up to $11,000 for each employee who is the subject of a child labor violation. In addition, the FLSA permits an assessment of up to $50,000 for each violation that causes the death or serious injury of a minor and such assessments may be doubled, up to $100,000, when the violations are determined to be willful or repeated.

If a penalty is assessed, the employer has the right, within 15 days, to file an exception in writing with the Wage and Hour Division official who issued the assessment. When an exception is filed, the matter is referred for a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Injunction in the Federal Courts

Section 17 of the FLSA authorizes U.S. District Courts to stop violations of the FLSA's requirements, such as the employment of children in violation of the hazardous occupations orders or payment of the minimum wage and overtime. Department of Labor attorneys, as representatives of the Secretary, are authorized by the FLSA to bring actions in the Federal Courts to enjoin such violations. Thus, the Courts can require employers to comply with the child labor regulations.

Criminal Action in the Federal Courts

In the case of a willful violation of the child labor rules, the FLSA provides for a fine up to $10,000. For a second offense committed after the conviction for a prior offense, a person can also be imprisoned for not more than 6 months.

"Hot Goods" Action in the Federal Courts

Section 12(a) of the FLSA provides that no producer, manufacturer, or dealer shall ship or deliver for shipment in commerce, any goods produced in an establishment in the U.S. in or about which oppressive child labor was employed within 30 days prior to the removal of the goods. This provision is in addition to Section 12(c), which prohibits employment of oppressive child labor in the production of goods for commerce. Oppressive child labor occurs when the child labor rules are violated.

Under these provisions, legal action could be taken to prevent an employer from shipping his or her product, if child labor violations have occurred within the past 30 days.

Records as a Defense

Employers may protect themselves from unintentional violation of the age-related child labor rules by keeping on file a state-issued employment or age certificate for each youth employed to show that he or she meets the minimum age requirement. Most certificates issued under state laws are acceptable. The Federal government no longer issues such certificates.

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