Department of Labor Fines Farm for Child Labor Law Violations

A farm outside of Yuma, Arizona has been fined $48,000 in civil penalties for violating child wage and hour laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Officials from the United States Department of Labor found seven children between the ages of 9 and 13 working during the farm’s summer okra harvest. The fine against the farm was announced Wednesday.

An investigation by Department of Labor officials revealed that the farm employed six children to harvest okra from June to August of this year. Three 13-year-olds, one 12-year-old, one 11-year-old and one 9-year-old were hired by the farm to pick okra. Another 11-year-old child was hired by the farm to trap gophers and dispose of other dead pests. According to the Department of Labor, children can generally work on a family farm that is owned by the children’s parent. The children in this case were not working for their parents on a family farm, and the rules for children working on a commercial farm are different.

The farm is considered to be a large commercial farm under Department of Labor rules because the farm employs more than 80 workers. Children ages 12 and 13 can be employed in an agricultural setting if they work on the same farm as their parent or if parental consent is provided in written form. None of the children over the age of 11 were employed with parental consent. Children under the age of 12 cannot by employed by a farm like the large commercial farm from the case. Children under the age of 16 cannot be employed during school hours and cannot perform dangerous job duties. The farm was fined for violations of parental consent and for violations of the age restriction. Employers that violate wage and hour laws for children age 12 or 13 face a penalty of $6,000 per violation and violations for children under the age of 12 begin at $8,000.

Source: yumasun.com, “Wellton Farm Cited $48k for Child Labor Violations,” Stephanie A. Wilken, 11/10/10

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