Child as young as 11 operated forklift at Kentucky distribution center, authorities say

A Kentucky distribution center has been slapped with a $30,000 fine after the U.S. Department of Labor found it illegally employed two children, one of whom operated a forklift.

Win.It America Inc.’s warehouse in Hebron, about 20 miles west of Cincinnati, Ohio, was found to have employed an 11 year old and 13 year old at its distribution center “for months,” The U.S. Department of Labor said Friday in a news release

The discovery of the children was uncovered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division in August. 

One employed child operated a forklift, which is considered hazardous for workers under 18, and another child picked up orders in the warehouse, which is prohibited for workers under 16, the department said.

The kids were also working “more hours than legally allowed and violated federal regulations that forbid employing workers under 14 years of age in non-agricultural occupations,” the release said.

The department obtained a federal consent judgement on Sept. 8 that requires the operator of the Hebron warehouse to stop employing children and warns the operator against violating federal child labor laws in the future. 

The court also ordered Win.IT America to pay $30,276 in civil money penalties and to hire a third party consultant to provide “semi-annual compliance training for all management personnel for a period of three years,” the release said.

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Win.IT America Inc. was founded in 2013 and is the U.S. branch of WinIT Information Technology Co., a Shanghai, China-based integrated supply chain solutions provider with over 700 employees in the U.S. Australia, Germany, and Great Britain, officials said. 

Win.IT America Inc. could not be immediately reached for comment.

The penalty comes amid a crackdown of child labor violations in the U.S., which Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Juan Coria in Atlanta said was seeing an “alarming increase.”

Employers are responsible for taking all appropriate actions to verify that they are not illegally employing children. When they fail to meet these obligations, we will act swiftly to hold them accountable and protect our nation’s youth,” Coria said.

In the fiscal year of 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor found child labor violations involving nearly 4,000 children nationwide, an increase of more than 60% over the past five years. 

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