The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) originally set out standards for child labor in the United States. Violations of FLSA are investigated by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) and may be very costly for employers. A gentleman’s club in Miami, Club Madonna, is currently under investigation by the DOL for breaking child labor laws. The investigation stems from claims that a 13 year-old girl danced for money at the all-nude club.
Child Labor Provisions
Under FLSA, there are specific laws related to minors based on their age. For instance, 14-year-olds have more work opportunities than 13-year-olds, 16-year-olds have more opportunities than 14- and 15-year-olds, and so on. Under federal law, a minor under the age of 14 may perform the following jobs:
– Newspaper delivery;
– Babysitting on a casual basis;
– Performing or acting in theater, movies, radio, or television shows;
– Work for a business owned by their parents, as long as the work is not hazardous;
– Gathering evergreens or making evergreen wreaths;
– Certain types of farm work.
Children 13 and younger are not even allowed under the law to work in a restaurant or office, let alone a strip club.
However, one 13-year-old girl, identified in the news only as D.J., apparently worked at Club Madonna from December 13, 2013 to January 4, 2014. Police first learned of the situation when the runaway girl’s mother found her and brought her in. Three people were arrested for “pimping” her out, one of whom was another dancer at the club who first brought D.J. in to dance under the stage name “Peaches.” No one at the club has yet been arrested.
Club owners are supposed to check identification to confirm the age of all dancers. The DOL began its investigation by searching the club, looking at ledgers, video surveillance footage, computers, and external hard drives. However, an attorney for the club claims they have no record of D.J. working at the club—nothing on sign-in sheets, contracts, or payroll records. If the DOL does uncover evidence that the very underage girl worked at Club Madonna, club owners could face at least an $11,000 fine. If the DOL finds that she worked repeatedly or that she suffered any injury while working, owners could be fined $100,000. Furthermore, if law enforcement determines the club willingly hired the girl, they could also face criminal charges.
The DOL takes child labor violations very seriously, especially in harmful environments, such as Club Madonna. Employers should always take particular care when employing minors, and should always check identification, make sure the job is appropriate for the minor, have the appropriate certificates, and comply with FLSA. If you have any concerns about child labor violations, contact the office of HKM Employment Attorneys today.