A Utah restaurant supply company, linked to Kingston polygamous sect, is cited for violating child labor laws

A federal investigation found employees, aged 14 and 15, worked as many as 46 hours per workweek.

Salt Lake City Tribune/March 29, 2023

By Palak Jayswal

The federal government has cited a Utah restaurant supply company connected to the polygamous Kingston sect for violating child-labor laws, amid stepped-up enforcement efforts in the region.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday that its Wage and Hour Division investigated South Salt Lake-based Specialty Consulting Services LLC — operating as Standard Restaurant Supply — and found violations of child labor work hours and standards, based on the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The division assessed $16,595 in penalties to resolve the violations, the labor department announced.

According to the department, the investigation found the company “allowed 22 employees, ages 14 and 15, to work as many as 46 hours per workweek.” It also found that these employees began to work after midnight.

“Both are illegal practices under child labor laws,” the department said in a news release.

Under federal labor laws, the department said, children under 14 cannot work in non-agricultural settings. Children 14 and 15 cannot work more than three hours on a school day (including Friday), or more than 18 hours a week when school is in session. During vacation months, 14- and 15-year-olds can not work more than 8 hours a day, and not more than 40 hours a week.

Kevin Hunt, the district director of the Wage and Hour Division, said that at Standard Restaurant Supply, “Minors as young as 14- and 15-years-old not only worked beyond permitted hours, but more than half of them were employed in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act by being allowed to work long shifts often exceeding 8 hours.”

The company also was cited for not keeping accurate time records — including one instance where a minor-aged employee’s date of birth was inaccurate.

Specialty Consulting Services was founded in 1980, and Standard Restaurant Supply’s website lists eight locations in six Western states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. Both LinkedIn and the Better Business Bureau list Ellery Kingston as the company’s president.

Standard Restaurant Supply is mentioned on the website of the Davis County Co-Operative Society — often referred to as the Kingston Group. A 2003 article, written by Ellery Kingston, describes how he brought his mother, Ardous Kingston Gustafson, into the supply company as an advisor. “It was like putting a pillar of strength next to us,” Ellery Kingston wrote, adding that with any major decision, he would ask, “What would Mama do?” (Gustafson died in 2002.)

Nationally, Hunt said, investigators “continue to see an increase in child labor violations in several industries.” In 2022, the Wage and Hour Division found more than 3,800 minors employed in violation of child labor laws in the United States, an increase of 37% over the previous year.

In March 2022, the Department of Labor’s southwest region — which includes Utah — put out a reminder to Salt Lake City-area employers to comply with federal child labor laws. The reminder mentioned past cases of violations, including Meisterguys LLC (operator of Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Ogden), Mammoth Holdings LLC (Wiggy Wash Corp.) and PCO-KTA LLC (Kent’s Market).

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