US Department of Labor Finds NC Peanut Manufacturer Violated Child Labor Laws

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After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Severn Peanut Co. Inc. – a peanut manufacturer based in Severn, North Carolina – has paid $82,820 in back wages and liquidated damages to 100 employees for violating overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The employer also paid a civil penalty of $3,619 for federal child labor violations.

WHD found Severn Peanut Co. Inc. failed to pay employees for work they performed before or after their scheduled shifts after the employer adjusted the time records to reflect scheduled shift start and stop times, regardless of when employees actually began or stopped working. This practice resulted in overtime violations when this unpaid pre- and post-shift work time moved employees past 40 hours in the workweek, and overtime was not paid. By altering time records, the employer failed to maintain an accurate record of the number of hours employees had actually worked which led to recordkeeping violations.

In addition, WHD found that Severn Peanut Co. Inc. allowed two minor employees to engage in a prohibited hazardous occupation when they cleaned parts in various plant machinery, a violation of FLSA child labor requirements.

“Child labor laws exist to strike a balance between providing meaningful work experience for young people and keeping them safe on the job,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Richard Blaylock, in Raleigh, North Carolina. “The U.S. Department of Labor encourages all employers to review their employment obligations and to contact us for compliance assistance. Violations like the wage issues as well as the child labor violations found in this investigation can be avoided.”

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd.

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