- The operator of six South Carolina-based Ben & Jerry's ice cream franchise locations has agreed to pay 61 workers $16,250 in back wages because of the employer's alleged failure to pay overtime when workers' hours exceeded 40 in a workweek, according to a Feb. 18 announcement from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
- The ice cream vendor also agreed to pay $5,110 in penalties for violations of child labor laws after the employer allegedly allowed two 12-year-olds to operate snow cone stands in violation of federal laws that governs the minimum age for non-agricultural work.
- DOL also alleged the employer did not keep accurate records that detailed the dates of birth for the minor workers and the number of hours some employees worked.
"Employers must ensure they pay workers all the wages they have earned, including overtime, and must pay special attention to the rules about minor employees," DOL Wage and Hour Division District Director Jamie Benefiel said in a statement.
Children under 14 years of age may not be employed in non-agricultural occupations covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Permissible employment for such children is limited to work that is exempt from the FLSA such as delivering newspapers or acting.
Kids who are 14 and 15 years of age may work in non-hazardous restaurant or fast-food establishment jobs as long as they work no more than three hours on a school day, 18 hours in a school week, eight hours on a non-school day or 40 hours in a non-school week, according to DOL. Those who are 16 and 17 years of age may perform any non-hazardous job for unlimited hours, DOL says.
Each state also has its own rules for the employment of minors. For example, under Massachusetts law, children under 18 may not work more than nine hours in a day or more than 48 hours in a week. Children ages 14 and 15 are not allowed to work later than 7 p.m. and 16- and 17-year-olds may not work later than 10 p.m. on a night preceding a school day or later than midnight preceding a non-school day. Massachusetts' employers are also required to have work permits on file for all workers under the age of 18.