Child Labor Essay

1780 words - 7 pages

As a new junior associate attorney at the firm of McNamara & Reynolds, LLP, I am very eager to begin my first case. My client is Bruce Lawrence, an eight year old boy who is just one of the millions of children who fall victim to abusive child labor each year. Bruce has been working in the bean fields of Florida, six hours a day, for the past three years, earning a measly fifty cents for each barrel of beans picked. Furthermore, the fields in which he labors are surrounded by large mechanical field equipment. Although Bruce has been removed from the field and is now back in school, we at McNamara & Reynolds, LLP recognize that such issues must not be let slide, and therefore, have initiated suit against his employer, a subsidiary of Del Monte.

Before one can begin to truly understand the facts of the case, it is important first to gain a substantial knowledge base of the horrors of child labor. The International Labor Organization has estimated that two-hundred and eleven million children between the ages of five and fourteen are currently employed. Of those two-hundred and eleven million, about one-hundred and eighty-six million work under hazardous conditions or more than forty-three hours per week. Conditions of child labor can range from anything as severe as a four-year-old being tied to a rug loom to keep them from running away, to seventeen-year-olds helping out on the family farm. Children's rights groups estimate that the US imports more than one hundred million dollars in goods each year which are produced by bonded and indentured children, and about eighty million children begin working and being abused each day. A report from the Human Rights Watch also cites the following appalling details: 1) Children working in agriculture suffer a remarkably high rate of injuries from heavy equipment. While they only account for eight percent of all working minors, children who work on farms suffer forty percent of work-related fatalities among children. 2) Young farm workers are often deprived of their lawful wages, and many earn far less than minimum wage. Some young workers who were interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported earnings as little as two dollars an hour. (Just a reminder that the current federal minimum wage is $5.15. See anything drastically wrong here?) 3) Many young farm workers are forced to work without access to three of the most indispensable sanitation requirements, toilet and hand washing facilities, and adequate drinking water. The lack of hand washing facilities fosters pesticide poisoning and bacterial infections, and not having access to adequate drinking water often leads to dehydration and heat illness. 4) Many children work in fields where the temperature is well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. These facts are outrageous.

One of the most significant pieces of legislation relating to the Bruce Lawrence case and the struggle against unfair child labor practices is the Fair Labor Standards Act...

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