Dairy Queen Locations Violated Child Labor Laws

More than 100 employees worked excessive hours.

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Heading to a roadside ice cream stand is a popular outing for Americans of all ages. Working behind the counter at these outlets is a first-time job for many teens.

When the hours they work exceed limits set by federal child labor laws, these experiences can serve up violations for employers.

A recent investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found H&H Coldwater LCC, a Fort Wayne-based operator of 11 Dairy Queen franchise locations in Indiana and Michigan, violated child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act at 11 of its locations. Specifically, the division found 102 minors ages 14 and 15 working in violation of Child Labor Regulations No. 3 – working hours and time standards –  at the Dairy Queen stores in Fort Wayne, at stores in Indianapolis, Bluffton and Decatur; and at one location in Sturgis, Michigan.

H&H Coldwater LLC agreed to pay $42,572 in civil money penalties by Nov. 14 for the nature of its violations.

“Franchisees like H & H Coldwater provide teen workers an opportunity to learn customer services and other skills that prepare them for successful careers but as employers, they have an obligation to ensure child labor laws are followed,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Patricia Lewis in Indianapolis. “Child labor laws protect teens’ health and ensure their first job experiences are positive and manageable with schooling and other commitments.”

The FLSA prohibits 14- and 15-year-old employees from working later than 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day and past 7 p.m., the remainder of the year. Additionally, they cannot work more than 3 hours on a school day, 8 hours on a non-school day or more than 18-hours per week.

In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that young workers aged 16-19 years old comprised nearly 12 per cent of the nation’s workforce. As businesses fill job openings with minors new to the workforce, it is essential that employers understand and comply with child labor rules. 

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