The Quarry Tap Room at 122 Water St. in downtown Hallowell, photographed Tuesday, was cited and fined earlier this year for almost 700 child labor law violations over a two-year period. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

HALLOWELL — The Quarry Tap Room in downtown Hallowell was cited earlier this year for almost 700 child labor law violations over a two-year period, carrying a $17,275 penalty.

Steven Lachance, co-owner with his wife, Anne, of the The Quarry Tap Room at 122 Water St., said officials with the Maine Department of Labor were cooperative and helpful throughout the settlement process.

“These laws are in place to protect the youth,” Lachance said. “We’re certainly not above the law, and we admit we did fall short of meeting some of these expectations.”

The bar and restaurant was cited in July for a total of 691 child labor law violations involving about a dozen workers, with the total penalty being $172,750. The state DOL, however, agreed to suspend $155,475 of the penalty if the owners of The Quarry Tap Room adhere to a settlement agreement and commit no additional violations.

It was the largest wage penalty issued by the state department of labor in at least two years, according to data provided by the agency.

Most of the violations involved employees younger than 18 who worked more hours than permitted by the state. The state DOL found 78 violations involved five employees who were younger than 16 and working without a permit, with 62 of the violations attributed to one worker between Aug. 30, 2020, and July 20, 2021.


Lachance said the workers involved primarily bussed and cleaned tables and ran food, with occasional hosting and dishwashing responsibilities.

The restaurant had 520 violations related to employing minors who were younger than 16. These violations could be related working minors more than 40 hours a week or eight hours a day when school is not in session; more than 18 hours a week or three hours a day when school is in session; more than six consecutive days; or between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., except during summer vacation, during which the law prohibits work between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., according to the state Department of Labor.

The restaurant was also cited for 50 violations involving employees who were 16 or 17 years old, and 43 violations for having employees who were younger than 17 working during school hours.

The nearly 700 violations at The Quarry Tap Room occurred between May 18, 2020, and April 23, 2022, according to state officials.

According to the Maine Department of Labor’s 2021 Annual Report on Wage and Hour Complaints, a total of 514 child labor violations were reported statewide last year.

With almost all of the violations involving employees working beyond their permitted hours, Lachance said they were mostly caused by employees working too long — sometimes by just a few minutes.


Jessica Picard, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Labor, said the violations involved 13 workers at The Quarry Tap Room.

“A lot of this is a systemic problem with the schedule,” Lachance said. “It didn’t really show its head until there was an actual investigation.”

Neither Picard nor Lachance would say how the violations were discovered.

“The Maine Department of Labor cannot confirm, deny or comment on complaints or investigations due to confidentiality,” Picard said.

Lachance noted that the violations occurred during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, when businesses across Maine and the nation struggled in many ways, including finding and retaining workers.

“We tend to get a little busy during the summer,” he said. “We were looking for additional workers, and were able to find them with these young kids, who were willing to step up, get off the couch and earn a wage for themselves, which is pretty impressive.”


Picard said the state Department of Labor does not factor in intent during investigations, focusing only on the violations and ensuring they do not continue.

“We aggressively pursue child labor violations,” she said, “and we encourage employers to take advantage of the department’s wage and hour classes and consulting to ensure they are in compliance before an investigation is needed.”

Lachance said he regretted the situation resulted in labor violations, and he and his wife are working to ensure it does not happen again. He said they are also training their managers and employees on hour and labor matters, which is required as part of the settlement agreement.

With most of the financial penalty waived if The Quarry Tap Room meets the terms of the settlement agreement, Lachance and his wife must make four monthly payments of more than $4,300 to resolve the fine, according to the agreement. The business is also required to create at least one public service announcements about child labor laws for social media, the newspaper, radio or television.

“We have some people we use periodically for events down at the restaurant, so we’re going to sit down them and see if they can assist us with putting out a Facebook video or something like that,” Lachance said. “We have complied with the requests of the settlement, and look forward to putting this behind us and moving forward.”

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