Labor Department fines pizza restaurants $30K for child labor violations, recovers $12K for two managers illegally denied overtime wages

Mio’s Pizza in Cincinnati, Milford allows minors to operate dangerous equipment

CINCINNATI – A federal investigation of the employment practices of the operators of two Cincinnati-area pizza restaurants has identified numerous violations of child labor, overtime and recordkeeping regulations.

In May 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigated Mio’s Pizza locations in Cincinnati and Milford, and found owners Dan and Leslie Igo violated several provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

At the Cincinnati location – operated by Stuff It LCC – division investigators found the following:

12 minors, under the age of 16, illegally allowed to use manual fryers, operate gas ovens with an open flame, move pizza in and out of a broiler/conveyor oven, and use a mechanical dough puller and sheeter. These activities violate federal hazardous orders that forbid young workers from performing cooking and baking operations.
16 minors assigned to work in violation of hours worked standards.
One manager denied required overtime wages because the employer paid them a weekly salary of $584 and improperly claimed they were a salaried manager and exempt from overtime. By law, employers may only claim an exemption from overtime for managers when they meet several duties tests and are paid weekly salaries of more than $684 a week.
At the Milford location – then operated by Black Cat Pizzeria Inc. – investigators identified the following:

Nine minors, under age 16, also performing the same hazardous cooking and baking operations.
20 minors working in violation of federal limits for work hours.
One manager owed back wages because the employer claimed the same incorrect overtime exemption for managers.
The violations occurred before the Igos sold the Milford location in late 2022 to new owners.

After its investigations, the division recovered $11,950 in back overtime wages and damages. The department also assessed $30,000 in civil money penalties due to the nature of the employers’ violations. The violations also included the failure to keep accurate records.

In 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that workers aged 16-19 years old comprised nearly 11 per cent of the nation’s workforce. From fiscal year 2017-2021, the department identified child labor violations in more than 4,000 cases, finding more than 13,000 minor-aged workers employed in violation.

“Since 2018, our investigators have seen an increase of child labor violations,” explained Wage and Hour District Director Matthew Utley in Columbus, Ohio. “These violations include permitting minors to work with equipment and to perform tasks that can jeopardize their safety and employing them for more hours than federal law allows.”

“Businesses that employ minors must abide by federal child labor laws. Young workers should not be risking preventable workplace injuries or having their education hindered by their employers’ needs,” Utley added. “Mio’s Pizza has a responsibility to understand the federal overtime exemption for managers and ensure that employees receive the wages they have earned.”

Federal law sets specific limits on when and how long workers under the age of 16 may work. It also forbids workers under age 18 from working in hazardous occupations. To assist employers in avoiding violations, and inform young workers and their parents, the division has published its “Seven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers.”

Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for iOS and Android devices, free and also available in Spanish, to ensure hours and pay are accurate.

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