Consumer Fraud

Grocery chain cited for multiple child labor violations

The U.S. Department of Labor has fined Hy-Vee, Inc., a Des Moines, Iowa-based grocery chain, with multiple violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, including a number of child labor violations in four of the company’s Nebraska stores.

Federal investigators found 37 violations of laws restricting working hours for school age children under 18 years old. The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits workers under age 18 from working more than three hours on school days, including Fridays, and eight hours on days with no school. Children ages 14 and 15 are not permitted to work past 7 p.m. on school nights. Children may work more hours when school is not in session, but the total number of hours worked must not exceed 40 per week.

The Department of Labor also nabbed Hy-Vee with six hazardous order violations. The FLSA does not allow children under 18 to work in a meat packing or processing environment, nor are they permitted to handle or operate power-driven meat slicers. Investigators found that minors had worked with meat slicers and a compactor, also forbidden, at one Hy-Vee store in Omaha. The grocery chain paid more than $22,000 in penalties for those violations alone.

Approximately $10,000 in other fines resulted from 25 working-hour violations in three different store locations.

The U.S. Department of Labor said that Hy-Vee, Inc. has taken appropriate corrective action. Department of Labor employees have since helped Hy-Vee to train its managers in FSLA compliance standards.

“Hy-Vee Inc. strives to provide a work experience for youth that is positive and educational. We take seriously our responsibility to be mindful of child labor laws, and we regret the instances in which the violations occurred,” said Christine Friesleben, Hy-Vee’s Director of Communications, in a statement issued February 5.

“In an effort to heighten awareness of keeping the work environment safe at all times, Hy-Vee has increased its training efforts.All child labor mandates have been reviewed and will continue to be reviewed periodically with those who hire, train and supervise young people to ensure they perform only approved, age-appropriate tasks.This increased vigilance will help us protect the well-being of our young workers.” Friesleben said.

Source: KETV 7 Omaha