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Exec: Dunkin' Donuts may have child labor violations

State and federal labor laws restrict the hours of workers under 16 years old. So the Smithtown Dunkin' Donuts where a 14-year-old said he was on duty at 9 p.m. the day a co-worker died after falling into a cesspool could face child labor violations, among other infractions.

Spokesman Andrew Mastrangelo of Dunkin Brands, parent of Dunkin' Donuts, said individual franchises make determinations on hiring "and we expect the franchises to follow the law of the land." He said the company is looking into whether child labor laws were violated in the case of the 14 year-old employee at the Smithtown location.

Here are some of the regulations:

Generally, 14 is the age at which minors in New York State can legally begin working in nonfarm jobs. But they face some restrictions:

Under state and federal laws, 14- and 15-year-olds can work only until 7 p.m., except from June 1 though Labor Day, when they can work until 9 p.m.

Under state and federal laws, those minors can work no more than three hours on any school day and no more than eight hours on a non-school day, And they can't legally work more than 18 hours in a school week and more than 40 in a nonschool week. Under state law workers under 18 must have a permit to work. They usually obtain permits from their school. And workers 16 and 17 in high school face some hourly restrictions.

Those minors are barred from operating hazardous equipment such as meat slicers or fryers. So in a retail establishment like Dunkin' Donuts they can do such things as sweep the floor, run the cash register or serve doughnuts. But they can't fry the doughnuts or use a doughmaking machine.

The above rules have other exceptions. For example, the state doesn't impose minimum-age rules for child models and minors who perform in theater, radio or television.

The Long Island office of the U.S. Labor Department is investigating to determine if child labor laws regarding hours or hazards were violated, said Irv Miljoner, who heads the department's Long Island office.

Under state law, civil penalties for child-labor infractions could range up to $2,000 per violation, depending on how "egregious" the infraction is, a labor department spokeswoman said.

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