Roma restaurant settles child work case

DOVER —- An agreement was reached last Friday involving a Dover-based restaurant facing up to $500,000 in fines for supposed child labor law violations, officials confirmed this week.

While the Delaware Department of Labor confirmed a mutual settlement with Roma Italian Ristorante, “the written terms of the agreement are still being finalized,” spokeswoman Jennifer Zeberkiewicz said.

The matter began with a DOL labor law compliance inspection on July 26, 2018, with several child-related violations allegedly detected and corroborated by business records, according to Superior Court documents.

A lawsuit was written by the Delaware Department of Justice (which represents state agencies in litigation) in November.

Roma’s attorney Sean Lynn said the restaurant admitted no fault and he refused to say whether any fines were enforced.

Deputy Attorney General Oliver J. Cleary represented the state.

According to a complaint filed by DOL, two children under 16 years old worked more than four hours on a day 14 times when school was in session. Roma was thus liable for a civil penalty of $140,000, the state claimed.

A minor under age 16 was allowed to work more than eight hours a day three times, with a civil penalty of $30,000 applicable, the DOL said.

Also, two minors were allowed to work prohibited hours before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m. 25 times, making the restaurant liable for a $250,000 civil penalty, the DOL said. Minors worked and attended school more than 12 hours combined seven times, the DOL said, evoking a $70,000 civil penalty.

Business owner Joseph Garramone Jr.’s children (exempt from child labor laws) were not involved, the DOL said. According to business documents, Roma has 30 total employees, including six under age 18.

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