State And Federal Regulations Of Summer Jobs For
By Christopher W. Olmsted, NCPA Legislative Chair
Summer is here (almost) and many teenagers will be hitting the workforce to
earn a few extra dollars. Companies who hire teenagers should be aware that
state and federal law restricts the use of minors or “child labor.”
The laws apply to “minors.” The California Labor Code defines “minors” as
people under the age of 18 who are required to attend school. The definition also
includes people under age 18 who are not required to attend school because they
are not California residents. The definition also covers any child under the age of
Under this definition, a person under the age of 18 who has graduated from high
school, or the equivalent, is not a minor, because he or she is not required to
attend school. Therefore child labor laws would not apply.
Work permits are required to employ “minors” under the age of 18. Generally,
permits can be obtained from the student’s school. Schools are not permitted to
issue permits for children under age 12, but under federal law it is generally
impermissible to employ an individual under age 14. The documents are usually
issued from the superintendent’s office, or by the superintendent’s designated
Work permits have a short duration, and therefore the employer must track the
effective dates carefully. Permits issued during the school year expire at the start
of the next school year. Therefore, if you hire a teenager for the summer, be sure
to obtain a new permit if you intend to continue the employment into the fall
session of school.
Work permits must be obtained before work begins, and the employer must keep
the permit on file at all times during the minor’s employment.
The school district’s permit form, if completely filled out, ought to comply with
Labor Code requirements. Be sure to include the minor’s name, age, birth date,
address, telephone number, and social security number. (For employment during
the school year, the hours of school attendance must be included, along with the
maximum number of hours per day and week that the student may work.) The
permit must be signed by the issuing school representative and the student. The
issuing representative will include an expiration date on the permit form.
The California Education Code limits the number of hours a minor may work
while school is in session. This article covers summertime employment, so it
skips those details.
Labor Code §1391 prohibits minors from working in excess of certain hours. The
rules depend on the child’s age. Minors under age 16 cannot work overtime—i.e.,
they cannot work more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. Also, during
the summer (June 1 through Labor Day) those under 16 cannot work before 7:00
a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. (Note: There is an exception for newspaper delivery jobs.)
Minors age 16 or 17 cannot work more than 8 hours per day or 48 hours per
week. They may work as early as 5:00 a.m. or as late as 12:30 a.m. as long as
there is no school the following day.
Certain of the Wage Orders also contain provisions regarding child labor.
Therefore, review the Order applicable to your industry before hiring minors.
California and federal law restricts child labor to a small number of occupations.
Children of certain ages are prohibited from working in a number of hazardous
jobs, including, for example, a number of manufacturing, industrial, and
construction occupations, as well as driving a motor vehicle. Before hiring a
minor, be sure to confirm that state and federal law permit the child to work the
occupation in question. Further, if employment is permitted, check for any
occupation-specific restrictions or limitations on working conditions.
State and federal law contain a number of exceptions and limitations on the
general description provided in this article. Therefore, review the statutes and
regulations, or seek legal advice, before hiring minors.
EEOC Issues Letter Cautioning Employers Against
Discriminatory Use Of Credit Checks; Legislation May Soon
Employers routinely conduct credit checks as part of pre-employment screening.
Sometimes this information is used to make hiring decisions. Can an applicant
who is denied a job based on a credit report claim “discrimination”?
According to the EEOC, yes, it is possible. In an advisory opinion published in
March 2010, EEOC Office of Legal Counsel published a letter suggesting that in
some instances, the use of credit histories may constitute race discrimination.
While Title VII and other federal anti-discrimination laws “do not directly
prohibit discrimination based on credit information,” wrote the EEOC counsel,
“they may be implicated in some circumstances.”
“In particular, Title VII prohibits an employment practice that disproportionately
screens out racial minorities, women, or another protected group unless the
practice is job related and consistent with business necessity. Thus, if an
employer’s use of credit information disproportionately excludes African-
American and Hispanic candidates, the practice would be unlawful unless the
employer could establish that the practice is needed for it to operate safely or
The EEOC acknowledges that some courts have determined that credit checks are
appropriate for certain positions, such as where an employee handles large
amounts of cash. The EEOC cited a 1997 case titled EEOC v. United Virginia
Bank/Seaboard Nat’l, where the court ruled that even if the defendant bank’s
credit check policy disproportionately screened out African-American job
applicants, the bank had a business need to conduct pre-employment credit
checks because employees handle large amounts of cash.
The EEOC is careful to note that its opinion is not law. However, the letter should
cause employers to evaluate the need for credit checks, and to develop a rationale
for why such checks are needed for a particular position. Credit checks may be
easily justified, for example, for positions handling money, financial transactions,
or valuable property.
State and federal legislatures are considering laws which may restrict the use of
credit checks. Congress is currently considering H.R. 3149, titled the “Equal
Employment for All Act” It would amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act to
prohibit a current or prospective employer from using a consumer report or an
investigative consumer report for either employment purposes or for making an
adverse action, if the report contains information that bears upon the consumer's
creditworthiness, credit standing, or credit capacity. For private employers, the
only exception would be for employees in a in a supervisory, managerial,
professional, or executive position at a financial institution.
In California, the legislature is currently considering AB 482. This bill would
prohibit an employer, with the exception of certain financial institutions, from
obtaining a consumer credit report for employment purposes unless the
information is (1) substantially job-related, meaning that the position of the
person for whom the report is sought has access to money, other assets, or
confidential information, and (2) the position of the person for whom the report
is sought is a managerial position, or a position for which the information
contained in the report is required to be disclosed by law or to be obtained by the
Legislative Update: California Legislature Seeks New
In addition to AB 482, described above, regarding restrictions on the use of credit
checks, a few other bills hostile to employers are pending in Sacramento.
AB 2773: This bill would seek to overturn a recent California Supreme Court
decision titled Chavez v. City of Los Angeles, where the Court upheld the denial
of attorney fees to a successful plaintiff in an employment discrimination case. In
California, cases worth under $25,000 should be filed as “limited jurisdiction”
cases, where the rules scale down the litigation procedures. But in Chavez, the
plaintiff filed an unlimited jurisdiction case, only to be awarded less than
$25,000. The court refused to award attorney fees because of this jurisdictional
issue, despite the fact that the Fair Employment and Housing Act would permit
the award of fees. The bill would remove the court’s discretion to deny fees in
AB 2187: Currently there are monetary penalties for failing to pay an employee
his or her final wages upon termination. This bill would make it a crime if such
wages were not paid within 90 days of termination. The bill would subject
employers (potentially managers) to a misdemeanor punishable by a minimum
$1,000 fine (maximum of $10,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for a
maximum of six months, or by both.
AB 2727: This proposed law could significantly restrict criminal background
checks. Existing law provides that an employer may not ask an applicant for
employment to disclose, and an employer may not utilize in an employment-
related decision, information concerning an arrest or detention that did not result
in a conviction. This bill, in addition, would prohibit an employer from denying
an application for employment for the reason that the applicant has previously
been convicted of a criminal offense unless the employer determines that there is
a direct relationship between the prior conviction and the employment sought or
the granting of employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or
This article is intended as a brief overview of the law and are not intended to substitute
as legal advice. Any questions or concerns regarding any statute or case law should be
addressed to a licensed attorney.