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Movie Theaters Fined For Violating Child Labor Laws

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The U.S. Department of Labor has assessed a total of $277,475 in civil money penalties against three movie theatre companies, Marcus Theatre Corp., Regal Cinemas Inc. and Wehrenberg Inc., for allowing dozens of teens to perform hazardous jobs and work longer hours than allowed by the youth employment provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.


The Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division, through a strategic enforcement initiative aimed at curbing violations in an industry found to have a high rate of non-compliance with child labor laws, discovered approximately 160 minors were being required to perform hazardous jobs — such as operating paper balers and trash compactors, operating motor vehicles, using power driven mixers and baking — in theatres owned by the three chains. Marcus Theatre Corp. also allowed youth to work beyond permitted hours. The 27 theatres where the minors were employed are in nine states: California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin.


"The penalties imposed as a result of these violations should serve as a wake-up call to movie theatre owners and other employers," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Businesses that employ minors are legally and ethically obligated to abide by child labor standards and ensure youth are protected on the job."


In addition to paying civil money penalties, the companies agreed to implement comprehensive internal compliance and training programs. They also will assist the Wage and Hour Division in promoting industry-wide compliance. For example, Regal Cinemas is showing a child labor public service announcement on workplace safety at all 458 of its digital cinema locations in 39 states.


Wage and Hour Division investigators determined that Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal Cinemas Inc., which operates Regal Cinemas, Edwards Theatres and United Artist Theatres, violated child labor laws by employing minors to load and operate trash compactors. Regal Cinemas has paid $158,400 in civil money penalties.


Investigators determined that Milwaukee, Wis.-based Marcus Theatres Corp. violated child labor laws by employing minors to load and operate trash compactors, operate motor vehicles and operate a dough mixer. The company also employed minors under the age of 16 to perform baking and allowed them to work beyond hours permitted under the FLSA. Marcus Theatres has paid $93,995 in civil money penalties.


Investigators also determined that St. Louis, Mo.-based Wehrenberg Inc. allowed minors to load and operate trash compactors, and to operate motor vehicles. The company has paid $25,080 in penalties.


The FLSA identifies 17 hazardous occupations prohibited for workers under the age of 18, which include operating and unloading scrap paper balers and paper box compactors. Loading is permitted only if certain specific conditions are met. There are also hours, times and occupation restrictions for employees under age 16. Fourteen- and 15-year-olds may work in certain occupations outside school hours, but not before 7 a.m. or later than 7 p.m., or 9 p.m. from June 1 until Labor Day. They may not work more than three hours on a school day and 18 hours in a school week, or eight hours on a non-school day and 40 hours in a week when school is not in session.

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