What can happen if I hired someone who is underage?

There is an employee that just 15 but has been working with me for about one year. The general manager hired his niece who was underage; it shows that she is 17. I believe he forged her papers so she could work. I want to know how much trouble we could all get into?

Asked on November 5, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

While a work permit is not required for minors under federal wage and labor laws, each state has its set of statutes and regulations that cover such requirements, and those requirements change depending on the type of employment (from regular retail to door to door sales to farm workers). Most can obtain a work permit at the age of 14 or 15 depending on the state and depending on the requirement to have a parent's or guardian's signature. So far I do not see a violation per se. If your state requires a minor to be 17 before being able to obtain a work permit, double check with the state's department of labor on that fact only. Forging ages may only impact the owner on violation of the labor statute itself (you didn't hire, the owner hired) and possibly other statutes if the niece is not being paid or not being paid by minimum wage standards.

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