If my teenager was injured on the job after being forced to perform illegal duties, can we sue for workers' compensation?

teen on roofFederal child labor laws are in place to protect minors against unfair employment practices. These laws particularly focus on limitations on number of hours worked; break period requirements; and restricted duties. The work hour limitations and designated work periods are calculated to prevent minors from missing school or falling behind in classes due to workload. However, restricted duty mandates are for the safety of underage workers.

The Major Points of Minor Work Regulations

According to the State of Florida and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, workers between 14- and 18-years-old are subject to both occupation restrictions and duty constraints. Here's a breakdown of regulations:

  • Occupational limitations for 14- and 15-year-olds. Members of this age group are prohibited from working in public messenger services, dangerous animal control, construction, electrical, transportation, warehouse/storage, and door-to-door retail occupations.
  • Work duty limitations 14- and 15-year-olds. Members of this age group are prohibited from operating motor vehicles or operating/cleaning any power-driven machinery other than office machines, including meat and vegetable slicers or industrial mixers. They’re also prohibited from working in freezers, loading zones, manufacturing, mining, or processing environments.
  • Occupational limitations for 18-year-olds. Although considered legal for many other things, 18-year-olds are prohibited from working in the following occupations: logging, slaughterhouse, demolition, mining, high-rise construction, electrical, metal and woodworking, and firefighting.
  • Work duty limitations for 18-year-olds. In keeping with federal safety standards, 18-year-olds are prohibited from working with explosive, radioactive, toxic, and corrosive materials; operating power-driven meat slicers and circular or band saws; and using compressed gases exceeding 40 psi or assisting to operate heavy machinery with more than a 20 horsepower engine.

Also, an employer should refrain from requiring a minor to perform any task that could be considered dangerous for an adult or experienced worker. In some cases, employers must use common sense to determine a task’s level of risk before assigning it to a minor. Minors under 14 are strictly prohibited from working.

Liability and Workers Compensation Rights

Florida labor and workers’ compensation laws require all employers to secure workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. However, exceptions can be made based on the statute’s definitions of “employer” and “employee.” Jobs that allow minor employees generally fit the definition and are therefore required to offer workers’ compensation in the event of an accident.

Furthermore, injured minors may also be eligible to receive additional benefits based on their age and severity of injuries.

If an employer knowingly disregards safety protocols and child labor laws, he may be held liable for not only the minor's workers' compensation claim, but also penalties under civil suits and federal investigations—which may include federal fines or imprisonment.

Learn More About Workers' Compensation

For more information on employee rights and how to pursue a workers’ compensation claim, order our complimentary book, It’s Not Rocket Science, It’s Workers’ Comp (Or So They Would Have You Believe). You’ll learn the secrets of Florida’s workers’ comp process and everything you need to know to begin building a strong claim.

Can’t wait for the book to arrive? Contact us directly to set up a free, no-obligation case review. We’ll be happy to discuss your claim, answer your questions, and recommend a strategic plan to secure your, or your child’s, benefits. Call us toll-free at (800) 556-8890 to begin taking charge of your future.