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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Movie Theatre Circuits Fined For Child Labor Violations (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Movie Theatre Circuits Fined For Child Labor Violations
Mitchell Dvoskin
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Posts: 1865
From: West Milford, NJ, USA
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 - posted 03-02-2011 12:07 PM      Profile for Mitchell Dvoskin   Email Mitchell Dvoskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Foxnews.com

quote: Fox News

U.S. Fines 3 Movie Theater Companies Over Child Labor Allegations

Published March 01, 2011

ST. LOUIS -- Operators of three of the nation's biggest movie theater chains have paid more than $277,000 in federal fines over allegations that they violated child-labor laws by letting teenagers work too many hours and use dangerous machinery such as trash compactors, the Labor Department announced Tuesday.

The government said the alleged violations of U.S. child-labor laws by Regal Cinemas Inc., Marcus Theatres Corp. and Wehrenberg Inc. were uncovered as part of a "strategic" crackdown on what the department called the industry's high rate of noncompliance.

Investigators found the supposed offenses to be sweeping, surfacing in 27 theaters in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Some 160 employees were illegally being required to perform hazardous jobs -- everything from operating paper balers and trash compactors to driving motor vehicles, using power-driven mixers and baking -- in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act's youth-employment provisions, the Labor Department said.

That law identifies 17 hazardous jobs barred for workers younger than 18, including operating and unloading scrap paper balers and paper box compactors unless certain specific conditions are met. The law also restricts the times and hours of employees younger than 16 -- something the Labor Department said Marcus Theatres did not honor.

"The penalties imposed as a result of these violations should serve as a wake-up call to movie theatre owners and other employers," Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said in a statement.

"Businesses that employ minors are legally and ethically obligated to abide by child labor standards and ensure youth are protected on the job."

All three companies were alleged to have allowed young workers to load and operate trash compactors -- a federal violation that got Regal Cinemas, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based operator of Regal, Edwards and United Artist theaters, the heftiest of the fines: $158,400.

Regal Entertainment Group, Regal Cinemas' corporate parent, markets itself online as the purveyor of the nation's biggest and most geographically broad theater circuit, with 6,683 screens at 537 theatres in 37 states and the District of Columbia as of late last month.

Milwaukee, Wis.-based Marcus Theatres Corp., which paid $93,995 in fines, also let teenage workers drive motor vehicles, run a dough mixer. Employees younger than 16 were asked to do baking and allowed to work longer hours than legally permitted.

Marcus Theatres, a Marcus Corp. unit touting itself as the nation's sixth-biggest theater circuit, with 684 screens at 55 locations in seven Midwest states, said in a statement it remains dedicated to providing a safe workplace, fully cooperated with the Labor Department and "proactively took actions to address this situation before any violations were assessed." The company said those steps have included barring minors from loading trash compactors, revising signs to better spell out safety policies and age requirements, and reviewing federal regulations with managers and other employees.

While none of the violations linked to Marcus Theatres involved accidents or injuries, the company "is happy that these issues were brought to our attention so we could further strengthen the policies and procedures that we already have in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable working environment for all of our associates," the company said.

Based in St. Louis, Wehrenberg -- dating to 1906 as the self-professed oldest family owned and operated theater group in the country -- has paid $25,080 on allegations that it also allowed young workers to operate motor vehicles.

Messages left Tuesday with Regal and Wehrenberg were not immediately returned.

The Labor Department said the companies have agreed to put in place compliance and training programs. Regal Cinemas is showing a child-labor public service announcement about workplace safety at all of its 458 digital cinema sites in 39 states.

According to federal law, workers 14 or 15 may do certain occupations outside school hours, but not before 7 a.m. or later than 7 p.m., or past 9 p.m. from June 1 until Labor Day. Such workers also may not work more than three hours on a school day, 18 hours in a school week, or eight hours on a non-school day and 40 hours in a week when school isn't in session.

Does this mean kids can't work 90 hours a week?

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Martin McCaffery
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quote: Mitchell Dvoskin
Does this mean kids can't work 90 hours a week?
Only if they are in the country legally [evil]

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John T. Hendrickson, Jr
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 - posted 03-03-2011 08:34 AM      Profile for John T. Hendrickson, Jr   Email John T. Hendrickson, Jr   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The article is not at all surprising. I'm sure labor violations happen all over the country in the exhibition industry. I would think that the chains would be most prone to it- kids working for the minimum wage and managers who could care less how many hours the employees work, so long as they can cover the shifts. Higher-ups looking the other way. No problem, as long as the bottom line shows a profit.

You will also find managers who are too lazy to interview perspective new employees to spread out the hours. Easier to work the present ones to death.

This sort of thing is probably less likely to happen where individual theatre owners run a hands-on type of operation, unless, of course, you have the type of individual owner who doesn't give a damn and doesn't bother to monitor total hours.

I'm not saying that mistakes don't happen even in well-run theatres. Generally speaking, good business people don't let something like this occur.

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Chad Souder
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 - posted 03-04-2011 06:22 PM      Profile for Chad Souder   Email Chad Souder   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
John -

You're way off on this story. We're (Marcus) not working anyone to death and there were no higher ups looking the other way. You're implying managers were intentionally violating labor laws and that is simply not the case. We offer hours to those who want them. In Iowa for example, someone under 16 can only work 3 hours on a school day. 3 hours isn't a very long shift. 3 hours and 5 minutes is a violation for which you get fined. The violations regarding equipment usage are something we admittedly weren't very clear on. That is now fixed.

Also, the "operating motor vehicles" mentioned is referring to allowing someone under 18 to use their vehicle for a work errand. In other words, a 17 year old with a valid driver license that drives over to another theatre to borrow some supplies or to get copies made at a store causes a violation. Yes, its that stupid.

There were some mistakes made and we now won't be hiring anyone under 16. Sorry kids, you can't have a job here because the government doesn't trust you around a donut conveyor oven or to go grab something out of the freezer. There were no injuries sustained and we had no employees complain about unfavorable working conditions. This is simply a revenue stream for an under-funded government watchdog. This is how stupid their standards are: A 15 year old cannot use the oven to cook a pizza and they can't help unload a delivery truck, but there is no language restricting them from using the popper or running projection equipment. Yep, really stupid.

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Bill Enos
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 - posted 03-04-2011 07:11 PM      Profile for Bill Enos   Email Bill Enos   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
They can't operate a film projector here, I checked about 10-12 years ago, if it has parts that can move or get hot they can't touch it. Va. has stricter regs than the Feds. We don't hire anybody under 18 for anything.

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Edward Havens
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 - posted 03-06-2011 02:48 PM      Profile for Edward Havens   Email Edward Havens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Way to make generalizations, Mr. Hendricksen. Maybe these types of things are typical in the theatres you frequent, but I'm quite proud to say that, since 1986, not one theatre I have ever worked at has been hit with any kind of labor citation and/or fine.

I am aware at least one of the theatres in my circuit was checked last week as part of this sweep, but since my chain is not listed as one of the offenders and the state that theatre is in is not listed amongst the locations where violations were discovered, I am wondering how many theatres the Labor Department actually checked as part of this sweep and how many came out without a single violation. Did they check fifty locations? 27 of 50 locations with violations is quite problematic indeed. Did they check a hundred? 250? 500? 1,000? There are roughly 5,900 operational movie theatre complexes (indoor and drive-in, single screen to megaplex) in America in March 2011, so how many did they check and how many came away clean? FoxNews is more likely to write a story up to be sensationalistic and push aside the facts and figures that show their angle to be pure drivel.

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John T. Hendrickson, Jr
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 - posted 03-06-2011 07:44 PM      Profile for John T. Hendrickson, Jr   Email John T. Hendrickson, Jr   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
New Jersey has strict regulations regarding child labor, and yes, businesses are monitored, and yes, there are citations and fines involved for those who violate said regulations.

I can not speak for the specifics of other areas, but I stand by my closing remark in my reply to this topic:

I'm not saying that mistakes don't happen even in well-run theatres. Generally speaking, good business people don't let something like this occur.

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Frank Angel
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 - posted 03-08-2011 09:38 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Chad Souder
You're way off on this story. We're (Marcus) not working anyone to death
Not to seem snarky here, but the Feds don't seem to agree with you. Isn't it precisely MARCUS Theatre Corp. who the Feds are going after here for their non-comliance with child labor laws?

quote:
The government said the alleged violations of U.S. child-labor laws by Regal Cinemas Inc., Marcus Theatres Corp. and Wehrenberg Inc. were uncovered as part of a "strategic" crackdown on what the department called the industry's high rate of noncompliance.
Why, yes...so it is.

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Sam D. Chavez
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 - posted 03-08-2011 09:56 PM      Profile for Sam D. Chavez   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Someone needs to get real here, we work in a carnival industry!
There is a culture of cutting it close in this industry. Promoting kids to management so they can run the booth is one easy example. I know we don't work in steel mills here, but there are job hazards in the entertainment industry and I don't mean just lecherous managers.

There are child labor laws for good and proper reasons.

If someone has a problem with what the law states, say so and don't whine about persecution.

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Mike Blakesley
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 - posted 03-08-2011 10:28 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If we weren't such a sue-happy society alot of these rules wouldn't be there. A kid can drive his beat-up, dangerous car over the speed limit and risk death all the way to his job at the movie theatre, but if he happens to burn his finger on the popcorn kettle, suddenly the theatre company is on the hook for thousands of dollars in "damages."*

* This is a theoretical thing; I don't think it's actually happened yet

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Frank Angel
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 - posted 03-09-2011 12:51 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Come on Mike, having a parent looking for a money pot "damages" just because little Johnny gets his finger burned is not what is being discussed here. This is not some irrate gold-digger, it's the US government looking to enforce child labor laws. Shouldn't it be doing that? Which of the child labor laws do you think shouldn't be enforced? They were not enacted because we are litigious society; they are enacted because we want to protect children.

Sure, people do stupid things -- ahole parents will send their 15yr out to work in a "beatup, dangerous car over the speed limit and risk death all the way to his job at the movie theatre" -- do you think that should give his employer the right to put him in further risk when he gets to his job by not obeying labor laws? Or perhaps get rid of those terribly confining speed limits too -- how about that? The one is irrelevant to the other.

And not-for-nutting, but everyone yells about how we are so ready to sue -- damn litigious society we've got here -- yah, until they feel they have been wronged and want redress. Methinks they would be the first to scream even louder if that route to a remedy were denied them. And who should we appoint to judge what is a legitimate lawsuit and which ones should be tossed out on the merits? Oh, wait....that would be the judges. Or maybe we should get rid of them too?

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Steve Guttag
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 - posted 03-09-2011 08:34 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Moderation is a key. I too think we are an over litigious society.

While I don't think we should selectively enforce laws...I do think we would be well served to re-evaluate all of our laws on a regular basis to see if they are needed or serve the purpose intended...if they aren't doing society good, repeal them.

I do think we need to have some form of Federal law dealing with "assumed risk." That is, going out into the world has inherent hazards (slipping and falling, cutting oneself...etc)...and with that you don't get to sue someone JUST because you got hurt. The threshold of responsibility should be a bit higher than what I see...there should need to be willful neglect involved or deliberate intent. If you are a klutz, it isn't the world's fault to pay for you.

But back on topic...child labor laws are a touchy one and they vary from locale to locale. If they are on the books, then they should be enforced. If they should not be on the books, repeal them.

-Steve

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Jonathan M. Crist
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quote: Steve Guttag
child labor laws are a touchy one and they vary from locale to locale.
This is only partially true. With regard to the employment hours of 14 and 15 year olds (intended to make sure work does not interfere with school studies - for details see Mitchell's original post above) and prohibition of the use of certain types or equipment and occupations even for 16 to 18 year olds (safety issues) these are found in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and as such apply across all 50 states. States are always free to provide MORE protection but the federal law provides a minimum standard.

With regard to the necessity of having 'working papers' and with regard to working hours for 16 to 18 year olds these do vary state to state.

I doubt that most theatre operators (unless they have a dedicated HR department) are even aware what their state labor laws are - other than it is a form they have to post on the employee bulletin board (assuming they even have an employee bulletin board).

In my area a local theatre manager was charged with sexual assault of a 15 year old female employee in his office at the close of the employee's shift on a Wednesday night at closing time (11PM). Since it was a school night the labor law violation came to light as part of the investigation. I was stunned to hear the local police admit they were unaware of the existence of the child labor laws.

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Bobby Henderson
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quote: John T. Hendrickson, Jr
I would think that the chains would be most prone to it- kids working for the minimum wage and managers who could care less how many hours the employees work, so long as they can cover the shifts.
Actually, the thing I have been seeing is managers and assistants -basically anyone on salary and exempt from overtime being over-worked and constantly under pressure from the higher ups to keep cutting payroll further and further and further. The fewer people on the clock the better. Who gives a damn how long the lines are at the concession stand or that there's not enough people to clean the auditoriums between shows or keep rowdy, disruptive audience members under control?

Our current regulations on child labor are an extension of general worker's comp liabilities. It all goes back to insurance and covering one's ass. With totally unchecked cost inflation continuing on in the health care industrial complex we can look forward to this situation getting worse and worse.

And we can also look forward to even more businesses hiring people illegally, paying them cash under the table to get around the system -whether they're illegal immigrants or actual American citizens. Bars and night clubs are a great example. Lots of American citizens working there, but quite a few bars are paying those folks off the books to save huge amounts of money. When they get caught, they get closed. But no one goes to jail over it. Our prisons are already crowded with too many other more serious criminals to bother doing anything about "white collar crime."

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Chris Slycord
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quote: Bobby Henderson
The fewer people on the clock the better. Who gives a damn how long the lines are at the concession stand or that there's not enough people to clean the auditoriums between shows or keep rowdy, disruptive audience members under control?
Similarly, I remember at an old job, the manager got a new janitor service contracted to clean auditoriums and the lobby. The corporate people complained to her that they were charging much more than the agency used the year before, but all that corporate person saw was the balance sheet and not all the times the guys hadn't shown up at all or had done a piss-poor job. And it had only gotten worse when they knew we'd signed a contract with someone else.

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