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New Orleans restaurant fined $55,000 after child employee falls while carrying hot oil, suffering severe burns

2019-09-28

A Louisiana restaurant has been fined for violating child labor laws after authorities learned a 13-year-old worker tripped and fell while carrying hot oil and suffered third-degree burns over more than a third of his body.

Jacques-Imo Café, a popular eatery in New Orleans, was ordered to pay $55,000 in penalties following a months-long investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor, the agency announced this week.

Authorities said the boy, who was a year below the minimum employment age of 14, was carrying a container of oil he had emptied from the kitchen’s deep fryer when the accident happened. Federal labor laws prohibit minor employees from cleaning fryers when the temperature exceeds 100 degrees.

Investigators also learned the victim and another 15-year-old employee were both working beyond the hours allowed for workers younger than 16 years old, according to a news release. The minors often worked past the legal limit of 7 p.m. during the school year and 9 p.m. in the summer, staying as late as 1 a.m., the department said.

In addition, the teens reportedly worked more than 40 hours a week, including more than eight hours on non-school days and more than three hours on school days, all in violation of federal labor laws.

Restaurant owner Jacques Leonardi told local news outlet NOLA.com the “awful” mishap happened more than a year ago and still “haunts” him. The man, who opened the restaurant more than 20 years ago, said the teen is “doing well.”

The eatery’s website describes its cuisine as Creole/soul food and boasts that customers “wait up to two hours nightly for a table.”