Jacques-Imo Café Fined over $50k for Child Labor Violation

Photo Credit: Mark Gstohl, Flickr Creative Commons

Jacques-Imo Café was fined $55,288 in penalties after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found they had violated multiple child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

According to an announcement by the U.S. Department of Labor, Investigators from the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor found that the restaurant employed a 13-year-old child. The minimum employment age in the U.S. is 14 years. The child suffered third-degree burns over a large portion of his body when he tripped while carrying hot oil he emptied from the restaurant’s deep fryer. The FLSA prohibits minors from cleaning fryers when the oil temperature is above 100 degrees.

In addition, the 13-year-old employee, along with a 15-year-old employee worked past the 7 p.m. evening hour limit during the school year or 9 p.m. summer hour limit from June 1 through Labor Day, at times working as late as 1 a.m. They also worked more than 40 hours per week, eight hours on a non-school day, and more than three hours on a day when school was in session.

“The child labor provisions of the FLSA ensure minors gain a positive work experience that does not hinder their education and well being,” Troy Mouton, Wage and Hour Division district director said. “Companies can avoid child labor violations, penalties, and injuries by understanding and abiding by the FLSA’s child labor provisions. We encourage employers to reach out to us with any questions and to take advantage of the many tools available to them to help them comply with the law.”

Under the FLSA, children under 14 may not be employed in non-agricultural occupations, and children under 18 are prohibited from performing certain hazardous machines. While youth ages 14 and 15 may be employed outside school hours, they are limited in the number of hours and in their working conditions.

According to nola.com, Jacques-Imo owner Jacques “Jack” Leonardi stated that the accident involving the 13-year-old happened around 18 months ago. “It was an awful thing that happened,” Leonardi said. “It haunts me every day.” The restaurant’s insurance paid for the child’s hospitalization, and Leonardi has paid the resulting fines in addition to making safety upgrades in the kitchen, including installing a grease receptacle.

Jenn Bentley is a freelance journalist and editor currently serving as Editor-in-Chief of Big Easy Magazine. Her work has also been featured in publications such as Wander N.O. More, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, Examiner.com, and others. Follow her on Twitter: @JennBentley_

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