Labor Dept. sharply increases penalties for employing underage workers

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department is sharply increasing the penalties against employers who illegally use child workers.

Anyone illegally employing 12-and 13-year-olds will now face a penalty of $6,000 for each violation. The maximum fine previously was $900.

Those employing children under 12 will face a penalty of $8,000 per violation. That's up from a previous maximum of $1,150.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (soh-LEES') says the new fines are part of a stepped up effort to crack down on illegal child labor. The penalties could go as high as $11,000 per violation in cases that involve injury or willful and repeated offenders.

The stiffer penalties are effective immediately and apply to any violation occurring on or after June 1.

(This version CORRECTS the effective date.)