An upstate New York dealer is facing $61,710 in fines after being investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The federal agency hit Tremont Lumber in Averill, N.Y. with the fines after it found the dealer employing eight teens ranging in age from 15 to 17. The department said it found the teens splitting and stacking firewood, operating log splitters, forklifts, and a circular saw, according to a report by Fox 23 News.
Despite teens looking for work again this past summer, owner Dennis Tremont say he is not longer employing anyone under the age of 18 at the yard, located about 15 mile east of Albany. He has also said the help he hired had proper working papers.
Tremont is appealing the fines and said he did nothing "intentional" when it came to breaking labor laws while noting that the laws are ambiguous. For instance, Tremont allowed his summer workers to unload trucks by hand - another violation the dealer was fined for.
The department also fined Tremont for allowing the employees to work more than three hours on school days and more than eight hours on non-school days. Tremont is appealing this fine as well, saying the records of hours worked are likely incorrect.
"There is no sweat shop being run here that's for sure," he told Fox 23 News.
In a statement issued by the Department of Labor, the agency said, "It's an old saying but true: Ignorance of the law is no excuse."
"An employer who plans to hire young workers has an obligation to aware of all laws governing the employment of minors," the statement reads.