NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A contractor in Tennessee is being fined after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor found the company guilty of violating child labor laws following the death of a teen in East Nashville.
16-year-old Gustavo Enrique Ramirez died in June of 2020 while working at the La Quinta Inn job site at 315 Interstate Drive.
Ramirez was doing roof construction on top of the hotel more than eleven stories above the ground when he climbed over a barrier at the roof line and tried to jump onto a power-driven hoisting device next to the building. He missed the platform, slipped through a gap between the scaffolding and the building and fell 160-feet to his death.
After an investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor found the teen’s employer, Stover and Sons Contractors Inc., a Madison company, guilty of violating child labor laws related to the fall.
A release from the department stated the company is guilty of violating two hazardous occupation orders of the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The orders ban employers from allowing minors under 18-years-old to perform roofing activities or to operate or ride on a power-driven hoisting apparatus.
After further investigation, investigators determined the employer also violated child labor laws when it allowed Ramirez to work more than eight hours a day and more than 40 hours per week when he was 15-years-old.
Stover and Sons faces a $122,364 penalty under the Child Labor Enhanced Penalty Program. This program allows the division to determine penalties of up to $59,413 for each child labor violation related to the death or serious injury or a worker under 18 for violations which happened on or before January 15, 2021.
“Every worker’s death is a tragedy, yet the loss of a teenager so needlessly is especially hard to understand. Child labor laws were enacted to protect children from being put at risk in truly dangerous work conditions,” said Wage and Hour Division Acting District Director Kenneth Stripling, in Nashville, Tennessee. “The Wage and Hour Division is determined to enforce child labor laws to keep young workers safe, and to hold employers accountable for their failures to comply with the law.”
The Tennessee Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has jurisdiction for the case’s workplace safety portion. Their investigation led the agency to issue citations to the employer. Stover and Sons is currently contesting the penalties.
In addition, the Wage and Hour Division also found the employer failed to pay overtime to employees when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. That is another violation of the FLSA. The employer paid $38,462 in back wages to 55 workers to resolve it.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).