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Build-A-Bear Workshop fined for violating child labor laws

May 18, 2009
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By Joel Dresang, of the Journal Sentinel

May 18, 2009 0

The Labor Department reported Monday that Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. has paid penalties for violating child labor laws following investigations at five locations, including at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa.

St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear paid $25,600 for violations involving employees ages 16 and 17 regularly loading and operating trash compactors. In addition, three employees younger than 18 operated and rode a freight elevator. The department said the incidents are prohibited by regulations meant to promote safety and prevent workplace injuries among employees who are minors.

Other Build-A-Bear outlets included in the investigation were in Wichita, Kan.; Grandville, Mich.; West Des Moines, Iowa; and Aurora, Ill.

Build-A-Bear issued a statement Monday that said the violations involved 14 minor employees at the five stores over a 28-month period ending in April 2008.

"Importantly, no one suffered any injuries from performing these tasks," Jill Saunders, the company's director of bear and public relations, said in a statement. "Following receipt of the results of the audit, in September 2008 Build-A-Bear Workshop implemented a policy of only hiring individuals who are 18 years of age or older."

About Joel Dresang

Rooted and educated in Wisconsin, Dresang follows work issues for the Journal Sentinel and JSOnline. His own work has been recognized nationally through awards and fellowships. His career includes work as a staff reporter at USA Today, the Rochester (N.Y.) Times, the Wausau Daily Herald, and WMTV-TV Madison.

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