Fisher Scones maker fined for most occurrences ever of overworking teens

TUMWATER — The maker of popular Fisher Scones has been cited for more than 1,500 instances of teens working beyond hours allowed under state law — the most occurrences the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has ever uncovered in an investigation of work-hour violations involving minors.

Conifer Specialties Inc., of Woodinville, has until Wednesday to appeal the citation, which included a $45,100 fine. John Patrick Heily owns the company, which started in 1977 and makes specialty foods, including scones.

“Child labor laws exist to strike a balance between providing a meaningful work experience for young people and keeping them safe on the job,” said Josie Bryan, youth employment specialist for L&I. “The goal is to ensure a youth’s health, well-being, and educational opportunities.”

The report of a teen injured using a commercial-grade mixer started the investigation, which covered August-November, 2019. In all, 78 youths ages 14-15 and 139 ages 16-17, were involved. The investigation found 1,560 instances of teens working beyond hours allowed under law. Of those, 426 were violations of teens working during school hours.

“It is imperative for employers to understand that it is against the law for a teen to work during school hours, even in these times with remote learning,” said Bryan.

There were also more than 100 instances of teens missing meal breaks. Bryan said meal breaks can help prevent on-the-job injuries.