Door County businesses that rely on teen workers during the school year face a balancing act when complying with child labor laws. A franchise restaurant operator was recently found in violation of those laws at 40 of its stores in Wisconsin and others throughout the Midwest. A U.S. Department of Labor investigation found that restaurant workers between 14 and 15 years-old worked over the time allowed on school days. That employer was fined just over $157,000. Tadych's Econofoods in Sturgeon Bay has a system in place to make sure students are off work in time. General Manager Jon Calhoun says an employee's work schedule is designed to ensure their studies don't suffer.
Teen restaurant workers can usually depend on other employees to help them keep their studies on track. Kenny Albert, General Manager of Sonny's Pizzeria of Sturgeon Bay, says adult restaurant staff are already adept at multi-tasking and put that to use when younger workers have to leave.
Albert says business is slower for Sonny's and other Door County restaurants and taverns during the winter months so they're not left too short-staffed when teen workers must quit for the day.