The Young and the Hirable

Putting a teen on the payroll? Get familiar with child labor laws first.

This month’s hypothetical story begins in Bristol, Tennessee, site of the Bristol Motor Speedway, one of NASCAR’s most popular venues. Margie, one of Bristol’s residents, has called the town her home for the better part of two decades. She owns three day spas here, but there’s a twist: Bristol is one of those few U.S. cities that span more than one state. So, two of Margie’s spas are located in Bristol, Tennessee—population 25,000—and one is in Bristol, Virginia, population 18,000. Serving a combined population of only 43,000, Margie’s successful mini-chain represents quite an achievement. Feeding that success is the fact that, during March and August, NASCAR fans swell the population to over a quarter-million. And everyone knows those NASCAR ladies love their nail services.

It just so happened that one day, Blanche, one of Margie’s best customers, came in for an aromatherapy pedicure. Chatting with Margie at the front desk, Blanche mentioned that her 16-year-old daughter, Denise, didn’t have a job for the summer. The two women’s daughters were friends, and Margie knew Denise to be a reliable and sensible kid. So Margie, having just lost her go-fer/driver—a key position for a business that runs three locations in a compact area—suggested to Blanche that Denise, a licensed driver, give her a call.

Denise came in for an interview and Margie hired her on the spot. Now Denise would earn some money over the summer and Margie would have some new help, plus brownie points for having pleased a loyal client. The only problem was that Margie had just violated a federal law.

Hence we come to the crux of our story: A spa owner must understand the rules when hiring people under the age of 18. Failure to know and apply these rules may result in a violation of child labor laws.