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

May 18, 2009

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."

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