Paul DeCamp, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in Bloomberg Law Daily Labor Report, in “Employers Liable When Contractors Exploit Child Labor, DOL Warns,” by Rebecca Rainey. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

A new child labor enforcement initiative from the Biden administration is putting pressure on employers to reconsider their contract relationships, with the US Department of Labor vowing to go after all companies benefiting from child exploitation.

The practice of subcontracting out specific jobs or projects is often seen in the business community as a way to limit a company’s legal liabilities. But subcontracting firms caught violating child labor laws have put large US companies in legal and reputational trouble as they get caught up in a new crackdown from the US Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. …

Broad Enforcement

Paul DeCamp, a Wage and Hour administrator during the George W. Bush administration, agreed that the crackdown on child labor could affect other companies in the supply chain.

Biden officials have said they would “aggressively use all litigation tools at its disposal,” including invoking the “hot goods” provision under the Fair Labor Standards Act to halt the movement of any goods made with child labor.

Including that provision further proves that it isn’t “just the business that deals directly with the younger workers that could find itself having to deal with DOL, but it could be other businesses further down the chain,” said DeCamp, now a management-side attorney with Epstein Becker & Green PC.

DeCamp explained that if a manufacturer creates goods in violation of the FLSA, a purchaser of those goods, like a retail store for example, could find itself facing a hot goods injunction that prevents it from moving its product. …

Avoiding violations

One solution to avoid running afoul of federal rules that prohibit kids from working in certain dangerous operations, using certain equipment, or past certain hours, is to not employ minors at all.

“The cleanest, safest way to stay out of child labor trouble with DOL is simply not to employ children. That’s not really the policy underlying the FLSA, Congress has never gone that far, but that is a prophylactic measure,” said DeCamp. “And frankly, a lot of companies choose to hire people 18 and over only as a way of steering clear of this issue.”

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