3 theater chains fined over child labor violations

By Tribune staff report
Posted March 1 at 5:23 p.m.

Three movie theater companies will pay more than $275,000 in civil fines after being accused of  violating federal labor laws by allowing dozens of teenagers in nine states, including Illinois, to perform dangerous jobs and work hours longer than allowed by law, the Department of Labor said Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division said about 160 minors at 27 theaters operated by Milwaukee-based Marcus Theatres Corp.;  Regal Cinemas Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn.; and Wehrenberg Inc. of St. Louis violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.

At Marcus, which paid more than $93,000 in penalties, the labor department said minor employees loaded and operated trash compactors and dough mixers “beyond hours permitted under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” the labor department said

Laws were violated in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin, the department said.

“Businesses who employ minors are morally and ethically obligated to abide by child labor standards and ensure youth are protected on the job,” Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a statement. “Movie theaters rely on a large number of young workers, and we need to ensure their safety and well-being is protected while obtaining meaningful work experience. The penalties and sanctions imposed as a result of these violations should serve as a wake-up call to movie theater owners and other employers of youth.”

“While there were no accidents or injuries associated with any of the violations assessed at our locations, Marcus Theatres is happy that these issues were brought to our attention so we could further strengthen the policies and procedures that we already have in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable working environment for all of our associates,” Marcus Theatres said in a statement.

Neither Wehrenberg nor Regal could be reached for comment.

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  1. mimi March 1 at 5:54 pm

    **** you

  2. Jeff March 1 at 7:10 pm

    These kids were all working part-time in addition to going to school during the day! Why shouldn’t they be allowed to work? I had a part-time job from 16-18 when I was in high school!
    Because they operated the trash compactor? Gimme a break! We did that all the time at the grocery store I worked at when I was a kid. We learned about safety and how to do things like compact trash the right way. Nobody ever got hurt and our adult supervisors made sure we learned how to do it the right way.
    No wonder teenage employment is at an all-time low. Idiot parents don’t want their precious little snowflakes to ever have to learn about what real work is and these idiot government morons need to justify their own salaries by coming down ******* theater operators who give kids opportunities to learn how to be responsible adults.
    They clearly want the illegals coming here to do all the jobs that used to be perfectly fine for teenagers.

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