A Utah concrete company denied accusations that the company draws Mormon teenagers to work in hazardous conditions for less than minimum wage.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) filed a civil complaint against Phaze Concrete, alleging that the company employed two children under the age of 16 affiliated with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) for hazardous construction work, and violated minimum wage, overtime, and record keeping laws. The charges are not the first to be levied at the concrete company, based in the polygamous town of Hildale, Utah.
The company has done work for Walmart, Hobby Lobby and other major brand names, and the news is not welcomed by a company who has been targeted by the Labor Department in the past.
The company acknowledged that three teenagers were employed on a job site in 2014, but asserted that the new civil complaint lacks fresh evidence of labor violations. Federal officials fined the company following the 2014 incident, and then closed the case. The company said that the boys were hired by employees without the knowledge of management.
Prosecutors now say that the two boys currently at issue have since left the church and are now opening up with more evidence. Prosecutors told local media that the boys worked 12 hours a day pouring concrete and operating heavy, dangerous equipment, including backhoes. The under-aged employees were paid $200 every two weeks for the work.
The company’s hometown of Hildale is under close scrutiny from the federal government for what is described as a theocracy under the FLDS church. The communities were charged with denying basic services to a family who did not identify themselves as members of the FLDS church, for example.
Church leader Warren Jeffs is one of the nearly 3,000 community residents. Warren’s brother Lyle Jeffs is wanted in connection to a multi-million dollar food stamp fraud case, but is currently on the run, evading capture.
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