new year brings new laws, including tougher child labor guidelines to better
protect the state’s youth. The new legislation, which goes into effect
1, 2007, criminalizes child labor law violations by imposing fines of between
$2,000 and $5,000 and/or up to five years’ imprisonment for each offense. In
addition, existing civil penalties will double from $300 to $600 per
“This new legislation goes a long way toward
protecting our young workers just entering employment,” Governor Rell said.
“While we have an obligation to protect all workers, the safety of our
children is paramount. For too long
child labor laws have not carried enough teeth.”
Child labor laws protect minors (those under age 18) from dangerous work,
spell out what type of work can be done, and specify the hours minors can be
on the job.
“Although the majority of
Connecticut employers comply with our laws,
it is of vital importance that we protect our youth in the workplace and
legislation that I proposed earlier this year will put employers on notice
that child labor laws need to be taken very seriously,” Governor Rell noted.
The Governor requested the tougher laws after Labor Department inspectors
found 11 violations at Wal-Mart stores in
Norwalk and Putnam in 2005. The most serious situations occurred at the Putnam
location, where three violations of minors using hazardous equipment were
found. At the time, Governor Rell noted that a fine of just $300 for each
violation was not a strong enough deterrent for a major corporation.
Over the course of a year the Connecticut Department of Labor’s Wage and
Workplace Division investigates approximately 800
cases involving minors in the workplace. According to the
Division’s Director, Gary Pechie, two of the most serious incidents took place
this past summer. The separate workplace accidents occurred within a week of
each other, seriously injuring two minors and resulting in arrest warrants for
two local business owners.
“Keeping young workers better protected is a major goal of DOL’s wage and
workplace division, and this new legislation will help us in our efforts to
ensure companies do not put minors in harm’s way,” Pechie said. He noted that
in August, a 15-year-old minor working for a
landscaping company was injured when a Bobcat tractor used to clear brush and
debris ran him over. In the other incident,
a 16-year-old minor fell 18 feet from a roof while working for a
roofing company based in Monroe.
Following the Labor Department’s investigation of the landscaping accident,
Mountain Walk & Patio owner Thomas Quinlan was charged by
police with risk of injury to a minor. His case is pending. The Wage and
Workplace Division issued an arrest warrant for Craig Schultz, owner of C.R.
roofing company LLC, charging him with the hazardous employment of a minor.
Schultz was fined $200 under the current penalty structure. Both companies
also were charged with failure to have a certificate of age on file for
minors, which is required under state statute.
have confidence that these new and tougher child labor laws will go a long way
toward better protecting the state’s youth,” said Governor Rell. “Connecticut
has a long history of statutes protecting minors in employment, yet both
companies allowed a worker under the age of 18 to either climb ladders or
engage in a hazardous activity. As a result of this new legislation, genuine
penalties will carry more weight and ultimately better protect our young
The Labor Department will continue to assess civil penalties for violations
that may include wage or hour issues, but with these new statutory penalties,
the agency’s Wage and Workplace Division will be able to refer more serious
violations to prosecutors for possible criminal action.
Employers seeking information on workplace laws can find guidelines online at
or by contacting the Department of Labor’s Wage and Workplace Standards
Division at 860-263-6791 for guidance.
Media Contact: Nancy Steffens