Four Utah Sodalicious locations violate federal child labor laws
Mar 29, 2023, 4:05 PM
SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Department of Labor found four soda shops in Utah violating child labor laws.
The operators of a Utah-born specialty beverage and dessert shop called “Sodalicious” illegally allowed 19 young teens to work more hours and times than lawfully permitted, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Labor.
The chain was founded in Utah in 2013 by Annie and Kevin Auernig. Today there are 26 locations, with four in Idaho, six in Arizona, and 16 in Utah. Four of those in Utah were found violating child labor laws.
The press release said that federal labor law prohibits the employment of workers under the age of 14 in non-agricultural settings. 14 and 15-year-old employees must work outside of school hours and cannot work:
- More than 3 hours on a school day, including Friday.
- More than 18 hours per week when school is in session.
- More than 8 hours per day when school is not in session.
- More than 40 hours per week when school is not in session.
- Before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on any day, except from June 1 through Labor Day, when nighttime work hours are extended to 9 p.m.
During and after the pandemic there was a rise in young workers entering the workforce, and the department’s Wage and Hour division noticed a national annual increase in child labor law violations of 37% in 2022. As part of the division’s heightened enforcement efforts, an investigation began and found more than 3,800 minors were employed in violation of child labor laws, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Our investigators continue to see an increase in child labor violations, especially in the food service industry,” Wage and Hour Southwest Regional Administrator Betty Campbell said.
Sodalicious allowed 14 and 15-year-old employees to work past 7 p.m. on school days, and after 9 p.m. during the summer, the department said. They also said it allowed young employees to work more than three hours on school days.
This violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s provisions for employing youth in restaurants and quick-service establishments at four Utah locations including Midvale, Orem, Provo, and South Jordan. The employer is faced with $13,946 in penalties assessed by the division to solve the infractions.
“Employers like Sodalicious are legally responsible for knowing and complying with federal child labor laws and making sure their employment practices do not jeopardize the safety of young workers or interfere with their education,” Campbell said.
In March last year, the divisions local region issued a press release reminding employers near Salt Lake City of the importance of complying with federal child labor laws, as it was cracking down on violations at some employers in the area.
The release highlighted similar cases of child labor law violations nearby at Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Wiggy Wash Corp., and Kent’s Market.
In Dec. 2022, another Utah-based dessert company Crumbl was found violating child labor laws at 11 locations across six states, with four of those cases affecting 18 employed minors in Utah.
“We hope that employers in the region view this case as a reminder of the importance of abiding by child labor laws and the costly consequences related to violating the law,” Campbell said.