By WCVB5 Staff | January 8, 2020
For Harry Kumm, getting his first job at age 16 wasn’t a problem. The local Domino’s franchise needed workers.
“The interview went smooth,” he said. “Got hired right on the spot.”
But Kumm’s afterschool job turned quickly into full-time work. He said he was on the clock for 35 hours per week, even staying past midnight on many nights.
“I wasn’t getting enough sleep,” he said. “I just woke up to go to school.”
Under state law, employees who are 16 or 17 years old are prohibited from working past 10 p.m. on a school night.
If they’re 15 years old or younger, the clock stops at 7 p.m.
“Look, this is serious business,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “We want young people to work, but we just want them to work under the terms of the law that’s there to protect them.”
Healey sent investigators to look into Kumm’s complaint. They discovered 426 violations of child labor laws.
To settle the charges, his employer agreed to pay a $25,000 fine and follow the law.
“We don’t want them working late late late into the night,” Healey said. “We want them supervised. We don’t want them in dangerous situations where they’re more likely to be taken advantage of.”
Healey said the most common complaint from employees is not getting paid for hours worked.
Last year, her office’s Fair Labor Division received more than 6,300 complaints accusing Massachusetts companies of “wage theft.”
“Right now, we see particularly vulnerable immigrant workers who are being taken advantage of,” Healey said. “Employers are not paying them, or threatening them.”
In fiscal year 2019, Massachusetts employers paid $5.8 million in restitution for wages owed to 11,118 workers.
The most citations were in the construction and home health care industries.
“If you’re not getting paid what you’ve earned, if you’re getting wages withheld, if you’re having an employer hold back money to pay other expenses, contact my office,” Healey said. “We can look into it.”
That’s what Kumm did.
“Bending your back for a corporation and then you know, they try to rip it from you,” he said. “It wasn’t worth it for me, so I made the phone call and I’m happy I did.”
The Attorney General’s office offers free clinics each month to educate employees about wage theft. Click here for a list of upcoming dates.
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