Hy-Vee, Fareway stores in Nebraska, Iowa fined for violating child labor laws

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Posted: Thursday, August 1, 2013 12:00 am

Some Hy-Vee, Fareway and other grocery stores throughout Nebraska and Iowa have been fined a total of more than $128,500 for multiple violations of child labor laws since 2011.

The penalties are the result of a multiyear investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor that found “significant child labor violations” at 28 grocery stores, including seven Fareways in Iowa and eight Hy-Vees — two in Omaha and six in Iowa.

Hy-Vee was cited for a total of 27 violations involving employees under age 18 performing prohibited occupations, the Labor Department said.

Labor investigators cited two Omaha Hy-Vee Supermarkets for a total of three violations, including allowing two minor-age workers to load a baler and allowing a minor-age employee to operate a meat slicer.

“There are 17 hazardous occupations that workers under the age of 18 are not allowed to be doing at all,” said Scott Allen, a Labor Department spokesman. “These are occupations that could seriously injure or kill someone.”

The Labor Department said the violations at Hy-Vee and Fareway stores included allowing minors to load and/or operate balers, meat slicers, bakery machines and a motor vehicle, violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In Iowa, six Hy-Vee stores were cited for 24 violations involving 24 minor-age workers.

Hy-Vee spokeswoman Ruth Comer said the company has since taken steps to comply with child labor laws, including retraining managers and reinforming employees about what tasks workers under age 18 cannot legally perform.

Comer said 25 violations against Hy-Vee involved throwing boxes or trash into compactors or balers that were not in operation.

“The remaining were minor-age employees cleaning parts of disassembled equipment,” Comer said.

The Labor Department conducted a seminar at Hy-Vee's West Des Moines headquarters to ensure the grocery retailer's compliance with child labor laws.

Fareway Stores Inc., based in Boone, Iowa, signed a settlement agreement with the Labor Department and agreed to pay the fines and correct its actions, the Labor Department said. Seven Iowa Fareway stores were cited for 13 violations, 12 for loading a baler and one for driving.

Fareway said it “cooperated fully” with the investigation. “Nearly all of these violations resulted from a minor throwing cardboard into a baler that was not operating. We feel strongly that none of the violations jeopardized the safety or well-being of any minor employee. ... Maintaining a safe environment for our employees and customers remains our top priority.”

Six other grocery stores in Nebraska were cited for violations, including Scotty's Ranchland Foods in Valentine. Scotty's received 22 violations.

Store owner Scott Millard said most of the violations involved “kids throwing cardboard into the baler that wasn't operating.”

“It was a misunderstanding,” Millard said, and the store is now in compliance with Labor Department regulations.

The other Nebraska stores were in Beatrice, Ord, Bridgeport, Tecumseh and Shelton.

U.S. Department of Labor findings

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CASE ID ER Trade Name Total CMPs Paid ER State ER City Number of Violations Violation code
1 1652341 Hy Vee #8 6200 NE Omaha 2 2
2 1641913 Scotty's Ranchland Foods 5000 NE Valentine 12 2
            9 5
            1 9
3 1646434 Beatrice Heartland Foods 3100 NE Beatrice 2 2
4 1647526 Hy-Vee #10 3100 NE Omaha 1 3
5 1652907 Grocery Kart 1150 NE Ord 1 5
6 1646469 Sonny's Super Foods 1150 NE Bridgeport 1 5
7 1651795 Tecumseh Central Market 775 NE Tecumseh 1 4
            1 2
8 1652897 Larry's Market 400 NE Shelton 2 4

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CASE ID ER Trade Name Total CMPs Paid ER State ER City Number of Violations Violation code
1 1637743 Hy-Vee 27900 IA Cedar Rapids 11 2
2 1646866 Hy-Vee 12400 IA Waterloo 6 2
3 1637753 Big G Food Store Inc. 10340 IA Marengo 14 5
            2 3
            3 1
4 1640255 Fareway Store Ames 6200 IA Ames 7 2
5 1658317 Hy-Vee West Des Moines 6200 IA West Des Moines 2 2
6 1648436 Hy-Vee Urbandale 6200 IA Urbandale 3 2
7 1644386 Buy Rite Foods 4575 IA Lake Park 2 7
            5 5
8 1652012 Bender's Foods 3675 IA Denver 5 6
            1 5
9 1638200 Fareway Stores Clive 3500 IA   1 2
10 1643272 Hy-Vee 3100 IA Des Moines 1 2
11 1649784 Hy-Vee 3100 IA Boone 1 8
12 1648783 Truncks Country Foods 3100 IA Reinbeck 2 2
13 1645181 Fiesta Foods 3100 IA Hawarden 5 2
            1 5
14 1638202 Fareway Stores 1950 IA Norwalk 1 2
15 1658324 Fareway Store Webster City 1550 IA   1 2
16 1639377 Fareway Store Toledo 1550 IA   1 2
17 1644105 Fareway Store 922 1550 IA New Hampton 1 2
18 1654198 Fareway Store 648 1550 IA Ottumwa 1 6
19 1648707 McNally's Foods 1150 IA Grinnell 2 4
20 1640187 B & B Grocery Meat & Deli 2870 IA Des Moines 2 5

Violations Codes

1: HO 12 Operating baler/compactor

2: HO 12 loading baler/compactor

3: HO 10 operating meat slicer

4: HO 10 cleaning meat slicer

5: Reg 3 Hours/Times

6: HO 2 driving

7: Reg 3 Occupation - cooking/baking

8: HO 11 bakery machines - cleaning

9: Reg 3 occupation - cooler/freezer

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