cents. More than 10,000 violations were found that year—nearly three times as many violations as had been found in the previous year.10 In 1995, agriculture and construction were targeted, and the number of violations found decreased dramatically, because few children and adolescents are employed in construction and regulations are more lenient for agriculture. In 1990, the Department of Labor conducted four strike-force enforcement sweeps looking specifically for child labor violations. A total of 9,542 inspections were conducted nationwide and 27,634 children were found to be employed illegally (i.e., in violation of FLSA regulations) (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1991). As is discussed in more detail in Chapter 3, studies have found that a sizable number of serious injuries are suffered by children and adolescents employed illegally, particularly when they are employed in violation of hazardous orders (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1991).

For businesses that are covered by the FLSA, a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 may be assessed for each minor employed in violation of any part of the child labor regulations. In addition, as of 1994, fines of up to $10,000 for each violation that leads to the serious injury or death of a minor covered by the FLSA have been allowed. 11 (That is, multiple violations could be associated with the work of one child and each violation is subject to a fine.)

The many small companies that do not satisfy the minimum threshold for coverage under FLSA are covered under state laws, which are enforced by state agencies. The enforcement of state child labor laws varies throughout the nation, in terms of number of staff, number and extent of inspections, and assessed and collected penalties. The number of compliance officers or inspectors at the state level is also limited. Only three states reported having more than 50 compliance officers responsible for enforcing all adult and child labor laws (National Consumers League, 1993). Various surveys have documented widespread inconsistencies not only in child labor standards (hours of work, age of work, updating lists of hazardous occupations), but also in enforcement. A 1993 survey by the Child

10  

Personal communication from Art Kerschner, Jr., Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor.

11  

All civil monetary penalties are reassessed every 4 years. It is likely that the child labor violation penalty will be increased to $11,000 sometime in 1998 (personal communication from Art Kerschner, Jr., Wage and Hour Division, Department of Labor).



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