Labor Department Investigations Disclose Child Labor Violations At 3 Jersey Gardens Mall Establishments

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ELIZABETH — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has assessed a total of $21,370 in penalties against three establishments operating in the Jersey Gardens Mall — Cold Stone Creamery, Tommy Hilfiger and Mr. Smoothie — for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor provisions.

The division, through a concentrated enforcement effort aimed at curbing child labor violations in New Jersey shopping malls, found that a total of 14 employees ages 16 and 17 were allowed to load and operate trash compactors located throughout the mall. The FLSA prohibits the employment of people under 18 in any nonagricultural occupations that the secretary of labor has declared hazardous, such as the use of power-driven balers and compactors. Workers under 18 may load a compactor under very specific and limited circumstances, provided the machine is locked, and the minor cannot start the machine.

“Our investigators found that the compactors in the Jersey Gardens Mall have keypad locking systems and the codes are common knowledge among staff in most stores,” said Joseph Petrecca, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Northern New Jersey District Office, which conducted the investigations. “We are committed to protecting the rights and safety of minors in the workplace, and are concentrating our enforcement efforts on shopping malls and other sectors that rely heavily on the labor of minors.”

Seema Enterprises Inc., doing business as Mr. Smoothie, and LTC Foods LLC, doing business as Cold Stone Creamery, have agreed to maintain future compliance and inform staff of child labor laws. Cold Stone Creamery has filed a timely appeal of the department’s penalty assessment. Phillips Van Heusen Corp., owner and operator of the Tommy Hilfiger store, has agreed to remedy the child labor violations disclosed at this location and committed to ensuring future compliance, according to federal officials.

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