BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Owners of The Rush Funplex fined for violating child labor laws

Aug 28, 2023, 1:00 PM | Updated: 2:14 pm

(Screenshot from Google Maps)...

(Screenshot from Google Maps)

(Screenshot from Google Maps)

SALT LAKE CITY — The United States Department of Labor discovered that two locations of The Rush Funplex in Utah were violating child labor laws. 

Investigators determined that Syracuse Family Fun Center LLC employed 76 children. The children were working at The Rush Funplex in Syracuse and West Jordan. The 14- and 15-year-olds who were employed worked longer than permitted by labor laws while school was in session.

KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas says you can hire kids that young, but there are strict federal guidelines to follow. According to Skordas, these strict guidelines apply to the wage they can earn, the hours they can work and the type of work they can do.

Investigation into The Rush Funplex

It was found that several of the employed children were working in occupations prohibited to those at their age. Underaged employees were operating manual fryers, pizza ovens, and go-carts during their shifts, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

“Learning new skills in the workforce is an important part of growing up – but we must protect children and ensure their first jobs are safe and do not interfere with their education or well-being,” explained Betty Campbell, the wage and hour regional administrator. 

The investigation also revealed that the company did not pay the legally required minimum wage to seven employees who were missed on payroll. Two of them were children. 

At the Syracuse location, it was found that they paid straight-time wages for hours that were worked overtime. The hours were worked by one child and some adult employees. 

Investigators assessed $166,908 in penalties. They also recovered $6,009 in back wages that affected more than 100 adults and children who were employed.

Skordas said the company can pay the fines and move on, however, it could hurt them in the long run.

“To a business like this, that could very well make the difference between a successful year and a year when they don’t make any money at all,” Skordas said.

The Rush Funplex gave KSL NewsRadio the following statement:

“Beginning in 2021, The Rush Funplex fully cooperated with the U.S. Department of Labor over a year-long investigation covering nearly 4 years of employment records. As we became aware of instances of non-compliance at 2 of our locations, we immediately implemented policy and procedure to prevent future occurrences.”

Child labor investigations

The department is currently making a nationwide effort to address the 69% increase in violations of child labor laws. 

According to the press release provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, the YouthRules! initiative promotes positive and safe working experiences for teenagers. In the fiscal year of 2022 alone, the department investigated 835 cases of child labor violations. They assessed more than $4.3 million in penalties related to violations that were found. 

“We encourage employers, young workers, their parents, and educators to use the many online resources the Wage and Hour Division provides or to contact us for additional guidance,” Campbell said.

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Owners of The Rush Funplex fined for violating child labor laws