DOL Fines Nickerson Farms $48K for Violating Child Labor Laws
November 11, 2010
Our Santa Ana labor and employment attorneys have been following the recent news that Robert Nickerson Farms, based in Arizona, has been fined $48,000 in penalties by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), after the department found that the farm violated federal child labor laws during the summer okra harvest.
The DOL's investigation reportedly determined that Robert Nickerson Farms hired six children to work during the months of June, July and August this year, weeding the okra fields. Of the children found working during the okra harvest, there were three 13-year-olds, and three other children who were 12, 11, and 9-years-old. Another 11-year-old child was reportedly hired to catch and kill animals by setting traps, and then dispose of the animal corpses.
According to current federal child labor provisions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), with agricultural work, children who are younger than 12 may be employed with consent from their parents, but only to work on small farms that are not subject to federal minimum wage requirements. Robert Nickerson Farms is in a large farm category, and employs over 80 workers, so children who are under the age of 12 cannot be legally employed by the farm.
Also under the FLSA, children who are age 12 and 13, may be hired to work on a farm if they receive written consent from their parents, or are working with their parents on the same farm. In the DOL investigation, Robert Nickerson Farms were found to have employed children over the age of 11 without any written consent from their parents, a violation of the FLSA.
Employers must also maintain accurate records of all hours worked by children, with the correct birth date records of all workers under the age of 19. Most agricultural workers must also receive at least $7.25, the federal hourly minimum wage.
As our Orange County labor and employment lawyers discussed in a recent blog, earlier this year, the Labor Department initiated a new campaign to crack down on the illegal employment of children, and increase the penalties for employers who violate federal child labor laws.
Under the new penalty structure, employers who engage in the illegal employment of 12 or 13-year-olds will receive a penalty of at least $6,000 per each violation. If a child worker is younger than 12, and employed illegally, the penalty is reported to be around $8,000. Under certain conditions, illegally employing child workers who are under the age of 14 could be raised to $11,000 per violation. According to the DOL, Robert Nickerson Farms was assessed a penalty that is part of this penalty structure.
In Anaheim, California, contact our employment attorneys at Howard Law, PC today.
U.S. Labor Department Cites Nickerson Farms for Child Labor Violations, U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division Press Release, November 10, 2010
Related Web Resources: