HR Management & Compliance

Employing Minors in Dangerous Jobs: A Bad Idea

Employers all over the country will soon be hiring summer workers, many of them minors. If you are an employer with jobs that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has listed as hazardous to minors, then take note. One Atlanta employer has learned a hard lesson at the expense of a teenage worker’s life.

The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division has fined Atlanta contractor Demon Demo, Inc., a civil penalty after investigating the death of a teenage worker from a second-floor fall at the company’s Gwinnett Place mall demolition site.

The penalty is the first assessed by the division under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which increased the maximum fine to $50,000 for each child-labor violation that results in the work-related death or serious injury of a minor. Also, the DOL assessed fines totaling $3,162 against the employer because it failed to keep accurate records and allowed the minor to work in an occupation deemed hazardous by the secretary of labor.

Certain industries allow individuals under age 18 to perform certain tasks at sites where the primary work activity is dangerous, but the tasks are very specific, and state and federal governments closely monitor compliance. A listing of hazardous occupations for minors is available on the Wage and Hour Division’s website.

The division also cited the company for failing to pay 126 workers overtime compensation as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The company will pay $108,869 in back wages as a result of the wage violations.