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Governor Rell Confident Tougher Child Labor Laws Will Better Protect Young Workers

“The Safety of Our Children is Paramount”

For immediate release
January 2, 2007
 

A new year brings new laws, including tougher child labor guidelines to better protect the state’s youth. The new legislation, which goes into effect January 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 violation. 

 
“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 Connecticut’s 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 Hartford, 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 Glastonbury 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 Glastonbury 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.

 

“I 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 workers.”

 

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 http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/wgwkstnd/emloyminors.htm or by contacting the Department of Labor’s Wage and Workplace Standards Division at 860-263-6791 for guidance.

Media Contact: Nancy Steffens  (860) 263-6535


200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, CT 06109 / Phone: 860-263-6000

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