The store where people create customized teddy bears is being fined by the U.S. Labor Department for violations involving teenage workers in Wisconsin and four other states. Labor spokesman Jeremy Eggers says the Build-A-Bear Workshop in Milwaukee was among the five where inspectors discovered problems.
Eggers says, "What we found were a number of violations of the Labor Department's hazardous orders regulations which specifically state certain work activities that 16- and 17-year-old employees can and cannot participate in." He says similar violations were found at Build-A-Bear stores in: West Des Moines, Iowa; Wichita, Kansas; Grandville, Michigan; and Aurora, Illinois.
"What we found were 16- and 17-year-old employees were regularly loading and operating trash compactors which may not sound like much but this can be a particularly dangerous job in this demographic," Eggers says. "What we're really trying to do here is protect our young workers." He says the St. Louis-based company was fined for the violations at the five stores.
"They have paid $25,600 in civil money penalties," Eggers says. "Build-A-Bear has been highly cooperative throughout this entire process. They have since come into full compliance and have taken the necessary steps to insure that they remain complaint with the Fair Labor Standards Act."
For more information on youth employment laws, see the U.S. Labor Department's website .
Matt Kelley-Radio Iowa contributed to this report