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.