WASHINGTON (FNS) -- The U.S. Labor Department has fined Smith's Food and Drug Centers $650,000 for violating federal laws governing the hours 14 and 15-year-olds can work and prohibiting workers under 18 from operating paper-balers.
minors operating paper-balers
Smith's president and chief executive officer Abel Porter acknowledged the violations occurred, but blamed the infractions on "not effectively monitoring" the "enthusiastic work ethic" of the youths.
"The majority of these infractions amounted to working only minutes beyond permitted work schedules. These committed students are excited to work. We found they are not likely to stop bagging a customer's order just because their shift had ended," Porter said. The violations occurred among those employed by Smith's Junior Courtesy Clerk program, launched in 1996 to employ 14 and 15-year-olds at the same pay scale as older clerks.
While the Fair Labor Standards Act allows 14 and 15-year-olds to be employed, they're not allowed to work during school hours or before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
In addition to paying the fine, Smith's, a unit of Fred Meyer, which is in the process of being acquired by Kroger, also agreed to train all employees in child labor laws and program its computer payroll systems to highlight hours worked by employees under 16. Employees who are minors will also wear color-coded badges to alert managers they are not allowed to operate balers and must work only within permitted hours.