March 9, 2023

DOL Ruffles a Few Feathers

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), “employees may not volunteer services to for profit private sector employers” (emphasis not added) or employ minors to perform hazardous jobs. If a reminder is needed….  

A North Carolina Chick-fil-A fast food franchise was recently fined six thousand dollars for: 

  • Allowing certain employees to work for meal vouchers rather than wages; and  
  • Violating federal child labor regulations prohibiting the employment of minors to perform hazardous jobs.  

The franchise offered “5 free entrees per shift” to anyone willing to “volunteer” to direct traffic in the restaurant’s new Drive Thru Express and allowed employees under the age of 18 to operate, load or unload a trash compactor.  

The Department of Labor prioritizes the protection of younger workers and is committed to holding employers responsible for paying workers for all hours worked – in cash or legal tender, not chicken sandwiches.  

Below are a few reminders regarding special wage and hours provisions for California agricultural employees and employing minors in the workplace.  

California Agricultural Employees 

California Wage Orders issued by the state’s Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC Orders) govern various wage and hour issues such as wages earned, hours of work, working conditions, rest and meal periods, overtime, uniforms and equipment, minimum wage, mandatory day off, and reporting time pay.  

IWC Orders are similar to federal statues, but with important distinctions. Each IWC Order is broken down by industry or occupation. Three specific IWC Orders relate specifically to agricultural employees: IWC Orders #14, #13, #8 and #4. 

Minors in the Workplace 

State and federal child labor laws ensure minors receive access to safe occupations that do not jeopardize their health, well-being, or educational opportunities. Federal child labor laws tend to be stricter than most state laws and must be applied in all circumstances where they provide greater protection including the payment of wages.