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Child labor law violation results in $85,000 penalty

Updated:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Six Flags Inc. has paid $85,000 for violating federal child labor laws and has agreed to ensure future compliance, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday.

The penalty resulted from investigations at Six Flags theme parks in Baltimore and Oklahoma City and involved the employment of 225 minors.

Six Flags, based in Oklahoma City, cooperated during the investigation, the Labor Department said.

``Our goal is the same as theirs, which is to provide a safe and productive work environment for all our employees,'' Six Flags spokeswoman Debbie Evans said. ``We want to make sure we're doing all we can to work within the federal regulations.''

Six Flags has agreed to train managers, assistant managers, supervisors and minor employees on the federal child labor law requirements. Six Flags also agreed to regularly inspect and audit its 38 theme parks to ensure compliance with the child labor laws.

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, 14- and 15-year-olds cannot work during school hours, before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on school days or after 9 p.m. from June 1 to Labor Day. They are prohibited from working more than three hours on a school day, eight hours on a non-school day, 18 hours in a school week or 40 hours in a non-school week. Minors also are restricted from work that is considered dangerous.

``The laws are designed to allow young workers to acquire valuable work experience while ensuring that the work is safe and does not jeopardize their education,'' said Joe Villareal, administrator of the Labor Department's Wage and Hour division in Dallas.

Meanwhile, Six Flags asked the American Association of Neurological Surgeons on Thursday to conduct an independent scientific study on ride safety. The company's request is a response to a congressman's push for federal legislation.

The U.S. government only has jurisdiction to investigate accidents at traveling carnivals. A bill by U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., would extend that authority to rides at permanent amusement parks. Markey has used statistics from the Brain Injury Association to back up his position.

Company President Gary Story said Six Flags questions that group's ability to ``conduct a thoughtful and deliberative scientific study within the time they have been allotted''

Story said the company welcomes whatever information the American Association of Neurological Surgeons can offer the industry.

``Safety is our No. 1 concern at Six Flags,'' he said. ``As a company, we place the greatest amount of time, talent and resources toward our safety program and we are always looking for ways to improve our system.''
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