Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Task Force Formed to Study State Child Labor Laws

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Task Force Formed to Study State Child Labor Laws

Article excerpt

The Oklahoma Commissioner of Labor's Child Labor Task Force has been formed to study the state law and recommend possible changes in the statutes.

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 Legislature.

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 for study.

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. …

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