Waldoboro shellfish ordinance investigatedNo fines expected
Waldoboro — The Federal Department of Labor has advised Waldoboro Town Manager John Spear that requirements in the town’s Shellfish Ordinance that shellfish harvester applicants perform six hours of conservation work in order to obtain a license is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Spear was advised of this determination in a meeting held Aug. 14 with the DOL Wage and Hour Division Investigator James Claus. Claus had been conducting the investigation over the last couple of months in response to a complaint that had been lodged with DOL.
According to Spear, DOL considers the mandatory conservation requirements as meeting the definition of "employ" under the FLSA, which is simply "to suffer or permit to work."
Consequently, DOL considers all individuals who performed conservation activities as employees of the town for purposes of the FLSA, even though the town had not employed the license applicants in the traditional or common use of the word.
Two different types of violations were noted. One involved minimum wage requirements and the second involved minimum age requirements.
DOL determined that reseeding activities, which is a major aspect of the conservation program were not violations, as propagating shellfish is exempt from the FLSA minimum wage requirements. However, other conservation activities, such as cleaning up the river, were considered violations as such activities are not specifically exempt.
The second type of violation involved minimum age requirements. Spear reported that at the meeting he was provided with "Notice to Employer-Employment of Minors Contrary to the Fair Labor Standards Act".
The notice indicated that the DOL investigation found that the town of Waldoboro had "employed" (again not traditional or common use of the word) seven minors contrary to the minimum age standards of the FLSA.
The notice further indicates that failure to comply with minimum age provisions can result in penalties of up to $11,000 per violation, with higher amounts possible under certain conditions.
Spear reported that Claus indicated that given the unique circumstances, and the fact that the violations were obviously unintentional, he did not anticipate any penalties or fines being assessed.
Spear indicated that he has suspended any mandatory conservation requirements until the matter is finally resolved. He noted that he is discussing the matter with Shellfish Committee Chair Abden Simmons and Deputy Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Meredith Mendelson.
Spear noted that DMR is very interested in the outcome as most — if not all — shellfish ordinances have similar conservation requirements.
594-4401 ext. 125
Beth rejoined Courier Publications' news staff in February 2013. She previously worked at The Courier-Gazette from 1981 to 1990.
Her coverage area includes Warren, Union, Friendship, Waldoboro, Washington, and Thomaston and RSU40.
Beth has a passion for photography, and a degree from the University of Maine at Augusta, in affiliation with the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport.
Aside from photography, Beth enjoys running and walks along the waterfront, as well as other outdoor activities. She has a daughter, Claire, who is 13.
Recent Stories by Beth Birmingham
Dec 08, 2013
Dec 06, 2013
Dec 06, 2013
Dec 06, 2013
Dec 05, 2013