Many teenagers seek work to obtain experience or even earn extra money during the school year, or perhaps when they come home from college. Often, teens find their first job in the retail or food service industry.
However, neither a teen’s job nor age means they do not have the same protections as any other employee in New York. In fact, minors often have more legal protections, as shown in a recent case that caught national attention.
The most child labor violations in Massachusetts history
This case occurred in our neighboring state of Massachusetts, and not here in New York. But child labor is a serious infringement of civil rights and employee rights, and the national attention this case has gained should lead every state, including New York, to review their own laws and the compliance with those laws.
The New York Daily News reported that the popular fast-food chain, Chipotle, has been charged with more than 13,000 child labor violations in Massachusetts. The attorney general’s office conducted a three-year investigation that revealed the company:
- Had several teenagers under 18 working without the proper permits;
- Allowed teens to work late into the night, past the legal curfew; and
- Let teenagers work more hours than the law allows.
Additionally, the investigation found that the restaurant consistently failed to maintain records of employees’ hours or pay them on time.
These violations are serious
Child labor laws do not prevent children from working. However, they do enact strict regulations to ensure that a young person’s work does not:
- Put their safety or health at risk; or
- Interfere with their education.
Employees have the same right to compensation and safety, regardless of their age. However, minors and their parents need to understand what restrictions child labor laws impose on them, so they can protect their rights against unfair employers.
So, what are New York’s child labor laws?
There are several regulations for minors in New York’s employment laws, including:
- Minors between ages 14 and 15 cannot work more than 18 hours per week;
- Individuals under 16 cannot work before 7:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m.; and
- Minors between ages 14 and 17 must obtain specific papers to work.
Teenagers have just as many rights as other employees, and they must be aware of those rights to protect themselves and their futures.