A.G. Schneiderman Secures Criminal Conviction Of Employers In Child Labor Case

Massena Restaurant Owner And Manager Admit To Violating State Labor Laws In Incident Leading To The Severing Of A Minor’s Limb

Schneiderman: We Will Continue To Stand Up For Our Youngest Workers By Vigorously Enforcing Labor Laws, Including By Bringing Criminal Charges Where Appropriate

MASSENA – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the conviction and sentencing of Violi’s Inc., its owner Ross Violi and its manager Dominick Violi, for violating New York State Child Labor Laws, by instructing a minor employed by the restaurant to clean an industrial machine. While cleaning the machine, the victim’s right arm was severed at the elbow. 

“Child Labor Laws were enacted over a century ago in New York to protect our children and prevent this very type of tragic accident by prohibiting employers from placing them in dangerous situations,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The defendants in this case showed unconscionable disregard for the safety of the victim. We will continue to stand up for our youngest workers by vigorously enforcing our state’s labor law, including by bringing criminal charges where appropriate.”

Court proceedings revealed that on April 24 of this year, a 17-year-old minor employed at the defendants’ restaurant was directed to clean an industrial pasta making machine. While cleaning the machine, the victim’s right arm was severed. Ultimately, he was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for surgery to reattach the severed limb and to repair nerve damage. Initially the teenager underwent four surgeries and was placed in a medically induced coma for several days following the surgery. The victim has made numerous trips back to Massachusetts General for follow up medical treatment and he continues today to face future numerous medical procedures to insure that he regains use of his right arm. 

Ross and Dominick Violi entered guilty pleas to employing a minor and requiring the minor to clean an industrial machine as part of his duties, in violation of Labor Laws 145 and 133(2)(e). The corporation Violi’s Inc. entered a guilty plea to employing a minor without having an employment certificate, commonly referred to as working papers, on file with the business, in violation of Labor Laws 145 and 132(1).

As a condition of the pleas, the defendants were required to pay $13,262.65 in restitution, fines to the New York State Department of Labor for violations of the State Child Labor Laws, and unpaid wages to the victim. This restitution includes reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the victim’s family for trips to Boston taken for the victim’s medical treatments, which are not covered by insurance.

A civil case is currently being pursued against the defendants by the victim, the victim’s family and a private attorney.

The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also found that the restaurant had committed serious violations.

New York’s child labor laws set forth certain absolute prohibitions on minors working in particularly hazardous circumstances or performing hazardous tasks; in this way, the child labor laws help to avoid the occurrence of preventable workplace accidents affecting children. For example, New York’s child labor laws prohibit minors from cleaning machinery, as in this case; the law also prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from working on any construction job involving demolition, roofing, excavating operations or the painting or exterior cleaning of a building from an elevated surface, as well as prohibits minors from operating any power-driven woodworking, metal-forming, metal-punching, metal-shearing, bakery or paper products machines.  In addition, child labor laws seek to ensure that burdensome working hours do not interfere with a child’s education, by limiting the number of hours and actual work times when school is in session.  Finally, with some limited exceptions, the law prohibits employers from hiring a minor unless the child has an employment certificate, also known as working papers. 

The case was investigated by Attorney General Investigator Joel Cordone and Deputy Chief Investigator Antoine Karan. The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General In Charge of the Watertown Regional Office Deanna Nelson and Labor Bureau Criminal Section Chief is Richard Balletta. Terri Gerstein is the Labor Bureau Chief; Alvin Bragg is the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice; and Martin J. Mack is the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Offices.