Having a job as a teenager can teach important skills such as self-reliance, planning, and commitment to success. However, not every job is appropriate for growing children whose minds are not fully developed. Both federal legislation and Minnesota law regarding 14- and 15-year-old employees are in place to protect these workers from unscrupulous companies who may endanger teenagers. 

The team of employment attorneys at Wanta Thome is committed to holding companies liable when they violate established laws governing what jobs youth workers can hold. Below, we offer guidance on how the law applies and the penalties these employers could face upon conviction. 

Federal and State Laws Governing Employment of Minors 

The child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are meant to keep work from interfering with a child’s opportunity to obtain an education. This means prohibiting certain tasks or jobs that could endanger a minor’s health or well-being. Additionally, the number of hours a teenager can work during school is limited to prevent harm. 

Minnesota does not have a specific act, but Minnesota Statute 181A.04 describes the minimum ages and maximum hours children are allowed to work. Prospective minor workers must secure an employment certificate (or work permit) that verifies their ability to be employed. The state does not require age verification at this time, but companies must maintain proof of age for any minors. 

Age Minimums and Hour Maximums for Minnesota Minor Employees

Generally, 14-year-old employees in Minnesota are the youngest who can be hired. There are some exceptions, including newspaper carriers, actors, models, or youth sports program referees. All of these employees can be as young as 11. For agricultural jobs, children 12 years and older can work in non-hazardous positions as long as they have the consent of their parent or guardian.

In general, 14-and 15-year-old employees in Minnesota can only work between the hours of 7 am and 9 pm, except for newspaper carriers, who are allowed to perform their duties prior to 7 am. Teenagers cannot work more than 40 hours in a week or over eight hours in a single 24-hour period, except in agricultural jobs. Children also cannot work more than three hours a day and 18 hours in a week when school is in session, according to federal child labor law

These laws and their requirements only apply to businesses hiring young people. For example, if you want to hire a 14-year-old neighborhood kid to mow your lawn, they are allowed an exception because this is considered a home chore. However, a company employing over 500 workers cannot hire that same teenager to mow lawns using the same type of equipment.

Jobs Minor Employees Cannot Perform

The FLSA prohibits anyone under age 18 from holding a job that includes duties that could be hazardous to their health or well-being, including: 

  • Construction, demolition, or wrecking
  • Door-to-door product sales
  • Jobs with exposure to radiative substances
  • Kitchen jobs involving gas or electric grills or industrial-sized dough mixers
  • Logging or sawmill work
  • Manufacture of tile, brick, woodwork, or explosives
  • Meat, seafood, or poultry processing, handling, or packaging
  • Mining
  • Roofing work
  • Tasks involving power-driven machinery such as forklifts, drills, lathes, or similar equipment 

Teenagers also cannot be in charge of rides at amusement parks or carnivals. They also are not allowed to work as lifeguards on natural bodies of water such as oceans and lakes. Further, they may not hold jobs in communications, transportation, or dry cleaning. They are allowed to work for companies engaged in these industries so long as the minors perform administrative or clerical tasks. 

Minnesota Has Additional Restricted Professions for Teenagers

In addition to the federal laws, Minnesota law prevents 14- and 15-year-olds from working in the following positions:

  • Driving vehicles that carry passengers, such as buses, trolleys, or trams
  • Working with explosives or fireworks
  • Snowblowers, weed whips, or edging equipment
  • Commercial laundry or rug cleaning
  • Automated car washes
  • Any mechanized conveyor line, such as in warehouses
  • Welding

Employers Who Violate These Laws Face Steep Penalties

Any employer that violates a child’s employee rights under the FLSA should be reported. Verifiable offenses are punished by a fine of $14,050 per employee for each occurrence, and if the action was intentional, the FLSA provides an additional $10,000 fine per instance upon conviction. If the minor employee is seriously injured or killed, the company faces a further fine of $63,855 per worker. This fine is doubled if it is found that the offense was intentional or is part of a history of violations. 

Further convictions add more fines and the potential for time in prison. Minnesota will also impose fines for child labor law offenses ranging from $250 to $5,000, depending on the violation. Holding these companies accountable is time-consuming and requires substantial knowledge of the law and how lawsuits work. If you suspect your child’s employer is illegally hiring children for prohibited jobs, contact the law firm of Wanta Thome.

Learn More About Minor Employment Law in Minnesota

At Wanta Thome, our award-winning employment law attorneys are committed to protecting the rights of workers, no matter how young or old. We understand federal and state law and stand ready to hold negligent or malicious employers accountable for their attempts to skirt the authorities. If you believe a company is breaking the law or asking your 14- or 15-year-old to perform tasks that are clearly prohibited, schedule a meeting with us to discuss your case.

We focus on building partnerships with our clients to give us the best chance of securing a satisfactory outcome. You are more than just a case number to us. We carefully select claims for their validity and alignment with our firm’s values. We protect young workers who are not fully able to understand the risks or may feel pressured to put themselves in harm’s way. There is no financial risk or obligation when you contact us through our online form to schedule your free case review today. 

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