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DOL Hammers Retailer on Child Labor Issues
By: Donald Berner

In a recent press release the U.S. Department of Labor announced child labor penalties against a chain retailer for allowing employees under the age of 18 to perform certain tasks the DOL has determined to be hazardous.  You might wonder what terrible tasks the employer required the minor employees to perform.  Was it handling hazardous chemicals?  Or maybe operating dangerous cutting equipment?  Not a chance.  It was nothing along those lines. 

Like many companies, this retailer had a trash and box compactor in the back of the store, and the minor employees were operating it.  Unfortunately, the DOL's Hazardous Occupation Order No. 12 generally prohibits employees under the age of 18 from operating, loading, or unloading paper balers or trash compactors.  These simple violations led to the assessment of a $12,000 civil penalty against the employer.

The lesson to be learned from this case is to be careful in how you utilize your youth employees.  DOL has issued specific regulations regarding the types of job duties employers under the age of 18, and under the age of 16, may perform.  As you can tell from this particular instance, those restrictions are not always intuitive, and what may seem like a routine function to you might be a hazardous task to the DOL. 

Hey Kids, No Texting While Driving the Combine
By: Boyd Byers

Kansas has a strong agricultural tradition.  Kansas farmers lead the nation in wheat production.  Almost 20 percent of all U.S. beef comes from Kansas.  Our state ranks high in many other crop and livestock statistics as well.  Agriculture and agribusiness are crucial to the Kansas economy.  In fact, one in five Kansans work in agriculture-related jobs.

In rural areas, teenagers often work part-time performing agricultural work.  I grew up in a small town, and from the time I was twelve years old until I left for college I spent large parts of my summers in the fields baling hay, detasseling corn, and walking beans for pay.  Some farm operations and other agricultural businesses depend heavily on part-time youth workers.  
Earlier this fall, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed, in its own words, a “dramatic updating” to its child labor regulations directed toward agriculture-related jobs.  The proposed changes include:
·       Preventing youth under 18 years of age from working in grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges, and livestock auctions, or otherwise being employed in the storing, marketing, and transporting of raw farm products.
·       Prohibiting hired farm workers under age 16 from operating almost all power-driven equipment, except for some “student-learners” under specified conditions.
·       Prohibiting youth from using electronic devices, including communication devices, while operating power-driven equipment. (In other      Continue Reading...

Don Berner Image
Don Berner, the Labor Law, OSHA, & Immigration Law Guy
Boyd Byers Image
Boyd Byers, the General Employment Law Guy
Jason Lacey Image
Jason Lacey, the Employee Benefits Guy
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