Startup Food Delivery Service Allowed Minors to Drive

The company faces nearly $140,000 in penalties.

Locale Delivery

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The U.S. Department of Labor has assessed $139,398 in penalties to a Silicon Valley delivery company that brings consumers specialty foods from well-known restaurants, bakeries, cafes and other California providers for hiring dozens of minor-aged workers as drivers, a prohibited occupation under federal child labor laws.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division determined that Organic on the Go Inc. – operating as Locale in Cupertino – put the safety and health of 78 teens – some as young as 16-years-old – at risk when they hired them as delivery drivers in violation of Fair Labor Standards Act provisions. Investigators also found the employer misclassified the workers as independent contractors. By doing so, Locale deprived these workers of their rights, including minimum wage and overtime protections, and other benefits.

“Employers who hire young workers must know and abide by federal laws that govern their employment,” said Wage and Hour District Director Susana Blanco in San Jose, California. “These obligations include ensuring minors are not employed in occupations that risk their safety, health and well-being.”

Since 2015, the department’s Wage and Hour Division has seen increases in child labor violations. In fiscal year 2021, the division found 2,819 minors employed in violation of the law and assessed employers nearly $3.4 million in civil money penalties.

“There are limits on what jobs young workers can perform. In most cases, child labor laws prohibit minors from driving motorized vehicles as part of their employment, and specifically when it comes to making deliveries,” Blanco added. “We urge employers to review our YouthRules! initiative materials and Seven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers web site. Employers may also contact the Wage and Hour Division with questions about keeping minor-aged workers safe.”

Locale provides delivery services for nationally recognized businesses such as Harry’s Berries, Pizzana, Langer’s Deli, Momofuku, Din Tai Fung and Manresa Bread in California, and globally through its website.

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