Food Lion Denies Talk of Child-Labor Law Offer

Article excerpt

SALISBURY, N.C. (AP) _ Federal labor officials have never approached Food Lion about a settlement over accusations that the grocery chain violated overtime and child-labor laws, the company said Thursday.

"There is no offer for us to refuse or accept," Food Lion spokesman Brian Peace said. "They (U.S. Department of Labor officials) have not even stated to us that they intend to file a complaint."

His comments were in response to a story in Thursday's Winston-Salem Journal. The story said two sources close to the case said the grocery chain refused a department request to enter a "compliance agreement" that would bar future violations of federal law.

The sources told the Journal that the Labor Department would take the chain to court early next year if it refuses a settlement.

"This is an absolutely false statement," Peace said. "We have not even discussed the possibility (of a settlement)."

The Labor Department would not discuss the case.

"As long as this is an ongoing case, there should be no comment," spokeswoman Lorette Dempsey said Thursday. "There's nothing to talk about."

The Food Lion chain operates 989 stores in 14 states, including 14 in Oklahoma, and employs about 60,000 people.

On Wednesday, Alfred H. Perry, acting regional administrator of the department's wage-and-hour division in Atlanta, told the Journal the department has not finished its investigation into Food Lion.

"It would be. . .unlikely that we would take any giant steps" on the case this year, he said.

Labor Department officials told a congressional subcommittee in September that they found substantial overtime and child labor violations at some of Food Lion's stores. …