Kroger store fined after minors did hazardous work loading trash compactor, feds say

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David J. Phillip/AP

A Kroger store in Mississippi is facing more than $13,000 in fines after federal officials said it violated child labor laws and overworked teen employees.

Investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division issued $13,673 in civil penalties against the Kroger supermarket located in Southaven, a city just south of the Tennessee border.

The fines stem from allegations that 16 and 17-year-old employees were allowed to load a trash compactor “with the keys in the machine to allow operation,” the Labor Department said.

Investigators said a 15-year-old employee worked over the number of hours allowed under child labor laws by working more than three hours on a school day and more than 18 hours during a school week.

“Child labor laws are intended to ensure young workers obtain valuable work experience safely without interfering with their safety and education,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Audrey Hall said in a news release from the Labor Department.

Corporate representatives from Kroger did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on May 17.

The fines aren’t the first in the Southeast against a popular name in the service industry this year.

In March, officials with the Labor Department charged more than $162,000 in penalties against the owners of seven Little Caesars franchises in Tennessee after investigators said 15-year-olds were allowed to use the ovens and stand-up mixing machines in violation of child labor standards.

A month later, in April, investigators fined the owner of a Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s franchise in Virginia after officials said they ”violated child labor laws, underpaid workers and failed to keep accurate employment records,” McClatchy News previously reported.

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