The Oklahoma Commissioner of Labor's Child Labor Task Force has
been formed to study the state law and recommend possible changes in
The current Oklahoma Women and Child Labor Law has been on the
books since 1938, the task force was told at its first meeting.
Labor Commisioner Ira Phillips said a drive by the U.S. Labor
Department to check for child labor violations among Oklahoma
employers in March to verify compliance with the child labor law
resulted in numerous fines begin given to Oklahoma businesses.
"One business was assessed a fine in excess of $29,000,"
Phillips said at the first meeting of the task force. "Management of
the firm said they were unaware of the law, but ignorance of the law
is not a valid excuse for non-compliance.
"After attending several individual and group meetings,"
Phillips said, "it is apparent to me that employers are unfamiliar
with the Child Labor Laws, and that educators and student employees
also are not aware of the restrictions.
"It became evident to me that an educational process is needed.
As a result, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Oklahoma
Department of Labor are now conducting a series of Child Labor Law
seminars across the state."
To supplement this effort, Phillips has commissioned the Child
Labor Task Force with specific instructions to:
- Develop methods to inform employers, educators, and students
of state and federal child Llbor laws.
- Ensure that these recommendations are implemented.
- Review Oklahoma's child labor law for recommended revisions
which will be presented to the governor and to the Oklahoma
Because of the general weakness of Oklahoma statutes compared
with federal statutes, said Mark Keyl, Oklahoma Department of Labor
attorney. He said that most child labor cases in the state fall
under federal jurisdiction. When state and federal laws are in
conflict, the one with stronger measures supercedes the other.
Also noting the extreme difficulty in trying to enforce state
laws, Keyl said the task force should study the state statutes for
possible changes in the laws. He said that New York and Colorado
have recently undergone major revisions in their child labor laws,
and that he would provide copies of these laws to task force members
Lloyd Day of the U.S. Department of Labor said that while the
child labor statewide drive conducted in March had uncovered a
multitude of violations, another drive conducted earlier this month
indicates that a larger number of employers are now in compliance. …