Pa. dings Georgia contractor for child labor violations | Tuesday Morning Coffee

The state collected a total of $22k in fines for a 2022 incident in New Castle, Pa.

By: - May 9, 2023 7:18 am
Stop and fight child labor concept. Human hand tearing a piece paper with written word child labor. Children rights protection.

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Amid an environment of heightened scrutiny of child labor law violations — and of legislative attacks on such laws, state labor regulators announced Monday that they’d collected a total of $22,150 in fines from a Georgia-based contractor tied to an October 2022 incident in Lawrence County, Pa.

The company, JVS Roofing LLC, of Jonesboro, Ga., also was hit with separate federal violations after a 17-year-old worker fell 24 feet from the roof of a home improvement store in New Castle, Pa., in October 2022, the state Department of Labor & Industry said in a statement. The worker was air-lifted to a local hospital for treatment of minor injuries, labor regulators said.

The fine stemmed from violations of the Pennsylvania Construction Workplace Misclassification Act (Act 72) and the Pennsylvania Child Labor Act, the agency said in its statement.

Of that total, the contractor was hit with $13,600 in administrative penalties for failing to obtain working papers and for failing to provide proper breaks for child workers.

Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Act requires working papers for all children and that all children receive at least a 30-minute break every five hours, state regulators said.

The contractor also was fined $8,550 for misclassifying nine workers as independent contractors, state officials said.

“Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Act safeguards young workers’ welfare and safety by regulating the employment of children under 18,” the agency said in its statement. “The law stipulates maximum hours and allowable work times and prohibits minors from engaging in hazardous occupations, such as roofing. With very limited exceptions, Pennsylvania law prohibits the employment of minors under the age of 14.”

PennDOT paving crews (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania photo)
PennDOT paving crews (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania photo)

In addition to the state action, the U.S. Labor Department collected $6,399 in fines against JVS under child labor provisions contained within the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal law that runs parallel to Pennsylvania’s Minimum Wage Act and Child Labor Act, as well as $92,640 in backpay for workers who were misclassified as independent contractors, the two agencies said.

The federal probe also revealed that JVS misclassified 30 workers as independent contractor. Investigators also learned the company failed to keep full and accurate payroll records, the U.S. Labor Department said.

JVS Roofing ignored federal child labor laws and hired an underage employee to do prohibited roofing work,” federal Wage and Hour Division District Director John DuMont said in a March statement.

“In reviewing this incident, our investigators then determined that the employer shortchanged workers an average of $3,000 per employee in earned overtime by misclassifying them as independent contractors,” DuMont said.

Right now, the state Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance has 27 investigators to cover all 67 Pennsylvania counties. Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s $44.4 billion proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, seeks funding for eight more investigators, officials said.

The state agency said it’s cited 927 construction contractors for violations of Act 72 since 2011, and collected more than $3 million in fines.

On Monday, state regulators urged employers to “familiarize themselves with Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Act and Pennsylvania’s Construction Workplace Misclassification Act to ensure that they are in full compliance.”

How to Submit a Complaint: The state’s Bureau of Labor Law Compliance responds to complaints filed by members of the public who suspect violations of the Child Labor Act, Construction Workplace Misclassification Act and other Pennsylvania labor laws. Anyone can file a complaint on L&I’s website using an online submission form.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.

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