Business Owner Fined Heavily Over Teen Employment Program


An Iowa business owner is facing huge fines due to a teen employment program that the U.S. Department of Labor says violated youth labor laws.

The business, Sugapeach Chicken and Fish Fry in North Liberty ran a program called Scholars Making Dollars. The program provided local kids with working experience and earnings while working around their school and parental schedules. However, the U.S. Department of Labor paid the business a surprise visit last year and then launched a six-month investigation into the program. Ultimately, they found enough evidence of federal law violations that they fined the business $65,000.

Owner Chad Simmons explained to Iowa’s News Now, “We were having these young folks work 3.5 hours when the guidelines say they can work three hours, we are also coordinating because again these folks really can’t drive so we’re coordinating with their parents, and having them work from 4:30 to 8:30.”

It seems that one factor in this situation is a discrepancy between Iowa’s youth labor laws and those from the federal government. Iowa allows teens to work longer hours than the three hours permitted under federal law. However, legal experts say that state law can only trump federal law in cases like this if the state law is more strict, not more lenient.

Simmons said he is appealing the decision. But for now, the Scholars Making Dollars program is on hold. And if the fine is upheld, it may be too much for his business to weather.

An extra hour here and there for teen employees may not seem like a huge deal. But fines like this can be devastating for small businesses. So it’s important for small businesses to fully understand the youth labor laws and other regulations that pertain to their employees and follow them closely. Even if there’s confusion or discrepancies, erring on the side of caution can help businesses avoid these issues and remain in compliance.

Image: Envato

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.