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Three Theater Chains Fined For Child Labor Violations

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CHICAGO (STMW) – Three movie theater chains have been fined more than $277,000 for allowing teenagers to perform hazardous jobs and work longer hours than allowed by federal standards.

Marcus Theatre Corp., Regal Cinemas Inc. and Wehrenberg Inc. were assessed a total of $277,475 in fines, a release from the U.S. Department of Labor said.

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Investigators found 160 minors were being required to perform hazardous jobs — such as operating paper balers and trash compactors, operating motor vehicles, using power-driven mixers and baking — in theaters owned by the three chains, the release said.

Violations were found at theaters in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and six other states, the release said.

Investigators determined Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal, which operates Regal Cinemas, Edwards Theatres and United Artist Theatres, violated child labor laws by employing minors to load and operate trash compactors. Regal has paid $158,400 in penalties.

Milwaukee-based Marcus Theatres employed minors to load and operate trash compactors, operate motor vehicles and operate a dough mixer. It also employed minors under the age of 16 to perform baking and allowed them to work beyond permitted hours. Marcus has paid $93,995 in fines.

St. Louis-based Wehrenberg Inc. allowed minors to load and operate trash compactors, and operate motor vehicles. It has paid $25,080 in penalties.

In addition to fines, the chains agreed to implement comprehensive internal compliance and training programs, and assist in promoting compliance. For example, Regal Cinemas will show public service announcements on child labor laws in all of its 458 theaters in 39 states, the release said.

The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division has been trying to curb violations in the theater industry, which has been found to have a high rate of non-compliance with child labor laws, the release said.

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