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Chuck E. Cheese's restaurants fined for child labor law violations

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Nine San Francisco Bay Area pizza parlors that specialize in hosting children's birthday parties were fined a combined $28,000 by the U.S. Department of Labor for violating federal child labor laws.

The Chuck E. Cheese's put 16 young workers at risk by allowing them to load and operate on-site trash compactors. Two minors also illegally ran a dough mixing machine, the agency said in a Monday press release.

"We all want young workers to develop the skills and experience necessary to compete in the marketplace, but safety must never be sacrificed in the process," said Ruben Rosalez, acting administrator of the Labor Department's western Wage and Hour Division.

"Employers have an obligation to ensure that minors are not performing tasks that could be harmful, which is why these child labor rules were established."

CEC Entertainment, the Irving, Texas, company that operates 497 Chuck E. Cheese's locations, did not respond to requests for comment. However, the Labor Department said that the company agreed to comply with federal regulations and paid the civil penalties. Chuck E. Cheese's managers removed keys from trash compactors, instructed minors under 18 not to operate them and put warning signs on equipment, the department said.

The Fair Labor Standards Act bans all underage employees in nonagricultural occupations from engaging in certain hazardous activities, including scrap paper balers, paper box compactors and mixers for  dough, batter and other foods.

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-- Marc Lifsher

Photo: A child at a Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant in San Bernardino. Credit: Anacleto Rapping/Los Angeles Times

 
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