By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) It isn't every day the Guam Department of Labor investigates local companies for violating child labor laws that were instituted in America in the early Twentieth Century. But two weeks ago, GDOL received a complaint that the Dusit Thani Resort Guam was having more than a dozen Okkodo High School minor students work into the early morning hours without letting them take required breaks.
"Management would have these students work sometimes until 4 a.m. cleaning up after banquets so that they don't have to spend more on the regular employees," a supervisor told Kandit on condition of anonymity. "If you say who I am, I'll lose my job and I need my job."
The employees of the Dusit, just like the employees of every hotel on Guam, are not unionized and do not have protections against retaliation by management for blowing the whistle on labor violations.
At least one of the students is only 15 years old. The child labor law violations allegedly have been occurring as early as July 2019 through January 2020.
The Dusit is the only venue on Guam with a convention center. Multiple function rooms surrounding a large ballroom/convention center require large numbers of human resources, including wait staff, bartenders, captains (supervisors), barbacks, and stewards who fill morning and evening shifts.
The students are called in as 'temp help' to help fill banquet's schedules. The Child Labor Law of Guam does not allow any student to work during school hours, so their schedules normally begin at 4 p.m. on weekdays while school is in session. For 16 and 17-year-old students, the law prohibits employers from keeping them on the clock past 10 p.m. on a school day, or past midnight on the weekends. For 14 and 15-year-old students, the law does not allow them to work more than three hours a day on school days.
The Dusit followed the law, when the hotel was not too busy with banquet functions. However, according to the complaint, when large or multiple events did happen, some of the students would be kept back through midnight, 2 a.m., and even 4 a.m. Hotel employees who shadowed the students said this was the case during the Red Ball, the Pink Ball, the Bank of Guam Christmas Party, and especially in the month of December, when several companies's Christmas parties were occurring at the Dusit.
§11106, Chapter 11, Title 19 (Child Labor Law) Guam Code Annotated states:
"(a) No minor aged sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) shall be employed or permitted to work more than eight (8) hours in any one (1) day or more than forty (40) hours per week, nor shall a minor aged sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) be employed on a school night past 10 p.m.. During non-school nights, such minors may be employed up to 12 midnight; provided, however, they may not be employed before 6 a.m. on any week day of the year.
"(b) No minor aged fourteen (14) or fifteen (15) shall be employed during school hours except as provided in school work experience or career exploration programs; and not before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m., or after 9 p.m. from June 1st through Labor Day; no minor aged fourteen (14) or fifteen (15) shall work more than three (3) hours a day on school days nor more than eighteen (18) hours a week in school weeks, nor more than eight (8) hours a day on non-school days, and not more than forty (40) hours a week in non-school weeks.
"(c) A minor aged sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) who has graduated from high school or has been awarded a certificate of proficiency, or who is married or supporting dependents, or who has been declared an adult by a court, may be employed for the same hours as an adult, except such minor may not be employed past 12 midnight or not before 6 a.m. on any given day of the week."
The students were unaware that these schedules violated the Child Labor Law.
It was Dusit management's alleged decisions during these busy banquet functions to not give them more than one break during shifts lasting at least eight hours or longer that made them question whether they were being mistreated.
The Child Labor Law states that:
"No minor under the age of eighteen (18) shall be employed or permitted to work for more than four (4) hours continuously without an interval of at least thirty (30) minutes for lunch or a rest period, and no period of less than thirty (30) minutes shall be deemed to interrupt a continuous period of work." - §11106(d) Child Labor Law
According to employees and some of the students, on several occasions the students were not given more than one break, and when functions were either too busy or understaffed, no breaks at all.
GDOL is investigating the Dusit.
Guam Department of Education superintendent Jon Fernandez confirms that DOE is not aware of these allegations or the investigation, but has since opened an inquiry.