Jacques-Imo Café, a popular New Orleans restaurant, has paid more than $55,000 in fines for multiple violations of Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) child labor laws, one of which resulted in a 13-year-old employee being severely burned by hot oil.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the 13-year-old worker suffered third-degree burns on more than a third of his body after he tripped and fell while carrying a container of hot oil that had just been emptied from the kitchen’s deep fryer.

Federal child labor regulations prohibit minor employees from cleaning fryers when the oil temperature exceeds 100 degrees. Oil heated to a temperature of 155 degrees causes third-degree burns within one second of contact with skin.

Investigators also found that the 13-year-old employee and a 15-year-old employee both worked schedules that exceeded permissible hours. The two teens worked more than 40 hours per week, more than three hours on school days and more than eight hours on non-school days, all in violation of the FLSA.

Additionally, investigators found the young employees worked past the evening hour limit of 7 p.m. during the school year, or 9 p.m. during summer vacation. In the summer hours the teens often worked as late as 1 a.m., the Labor Department said.

According to the Wage and Hour Division District Director Troy Mouton in New Orleans, the FLSA child labor laws allow minors to “gain a positive work experience that does not hinder their education and well-being.”

Businesses that disregard child labor laws can face costly penalties, especially when safety violations result in the injury of a minor.

The Times-Picayune reached out to Jacques-Imo Café owner Jacques “Jack” Leonardi, who described the incident as “traumatic.”

“It was an awful thing that happened,” he told the Times-Picayune. “It haunts me every day.”

Beasley Allen lawyers handle a variety of claims related to employment law. Most issues involving wage and hour law are defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which governs what an employer can and cannot do when it comes to your time at work and how you are compensated. For more information about these types of claims, contact Leon Hampton in our Fraud section.

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