In certain industries, teenage employees comprise a large and valuable portion of the workforce. This often includes jobs in retail or fast food, where teens can work after school or on the weekends to earn some extra cash and learn important on-the-job skills. Sadly, Wisconsin employers do not always respect the fact that teenagers are still children, and violations of employment law are perhaps not as uncommon as most would like to think.
The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division recently slapped Shadowlake Enterprises — a company that operates four Subway franchise locations in Wisconsin — with a rather hefty fine for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. Ordered to pay $47,657, the company allegedly committed both record keeping and child labor violations. As part of its penalty, Shadowlake agreed to move to a computerized scheduling system.
Investigators from WHD determined that 55 employees aged 14 and 15 years of age were allowed to operate toaster ovens and baking equipment that were otherwise prohibited because of their ages. These employees were also routinely scheduled to work shifts longer than three hours during school days, which is not allowed. On non-school days, the young teens worked shifts longer than eight hours.
Child labor laws are in place to ensure that Wisconsin teenagers’ health, education and general well-being are protected. When this aspect of employment law is violated, young teens often do not fully understand their rights or how to assert their protections under law. This overwhelming process can often be eased when performed under the guidance of an experienced attorney.