La Unica #2 fined $47K in teenage meat-slicer accident

Tienda Y Carneceria La Unica 2 on Mt. Zion Road in Jonesboro was fined more than $47,000 after federal labor investigators learned a 16-year-old lost a finger and severely damaged another while operating a meat slicer. Employees under 18 cannot run dangerous machinery. The store declined comment.

JONESBORO — A Jonesboro supermarket has been fined $47,115 by federal authorities after a teenager lost one finger and severely injured another while working on a meat slicer.

Tienda Y Carniceria La Unica 2 Inc., 661 Mt. Zion Road, was fined by the U.S. Department of Labor after a Wage and Hour Division investigation found the store let a 16-year-old operate a power-driven meat slicer, which is a violation of federal labor law. Grocery store employees must be 18 or older to use a meat slicer.

Investigators also found that the business did not keep proper time and payroll records, another violation.

An employee who answered the phone at the store Tuesday said he knew nothing of the incident. He would not put the News in touch with the owner, William Napoleon Garcia, nor would he take a number for the owner to call back to discuss the incident. Garcia, who fled the El Salvador Civil War in 1980, emigrated to the U.S. and built up his business from nothing, is one of Atlanta’s leading Hispanic businessmen.

“The safety of young workers remains a priority for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Eric Williams. “Employers have a responsibility to fully understand and comply with the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act to ensure minors work in a safe environment.”

Williams added, “We encourage employers to review child labor laws, when employing minors, and to contact us for assistance. Violations and injuries like those in this case can be avoided.”

Some resources that employers can refer to include online videos and confidential calls. Employers also can visit local WHD offices for assistance. The toll-free helpline, (866) 487-9243, offers information about child labor, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and other laws the WHD enforces.

Employers who discover they are in violation of overtime or minimum-wage laws are able to self-report and resolve the issue through the PAID program in order to avoid litigation.

To learn more about federal labor standards or to file a complaint, visit www.dol.gov/whd.

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