If you ever read the state labor laws (wait, you haven’t?), you sometimes come across provisions that seem like they were written for another generation.
And indeed, they were.
Take, for example, Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-23. It prohibits children under the age of 16 from working in the “manufacturing, mechanical, mercantile or theatrical industry”.
That seems to make some sense as far as child labor laws are written. Then it goes on.
It also prohibits working in a “restaurant or public dining room.”
Public Dining Rooms? I was about to write this off entirely as just outdated but there is at least one reference I’ve found in Connecticut to a “public dining room”. Grasso Tech’s culinary arts program advertises a “public dining room” on Facebook, so perhaps we can give them a break.
And then the statute singles out three other businesses to add to the prohibition: any bowling alley, shoe-shining establishment or barber shop.
It seems an odd arrangement for businesses. Some of it can certainly be seen rooted in safety — you wouldn’t necessarily want minors dealing with sharp tools if a barber shop or the equipment of a bowling alley.
Indeed, Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-25 prohibits minors from operating elevators! Tell that to my kids who love pushing the buttons.
My best guess from review of the legislative history, though, is that the statute is rooted in something more nefarious — that these industries would somehow show the dark side of society.
Now, there are some exceptions for other businesses over the last decade or so that I’ve covered previously; golf courses, or cashiers in supermarkets etc. all have some exceptions.
But the bowling alleys and shoe shining establishment bar still stands.
Some laws are hard to change.