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May 27, 2010 permalink
Connecticut parents Michael and Migdalia Nuzzo are teaching their kids their business by letting them help out in the pizzeria after school hours. If successful this could enable the kids to become financially self-sufficient at an early age. The state is trying to stop them for violating child labor laws.
Kids Banned From Learning Family Business
Pizzeria In Family Since 1950s
CLINTON, Conn. -- A pizzeria in Clinton is at the center of a legal battle after the Department of Labor told the owners they were in violation of state law by allowing their children to learn the family business.
Michael Nuzzo, 13; Brittany Nuzzo, 11; and Christopher Nuzzo, 8, are as passionate about pizza as their parents, Michael and Migdalia, who own and operate Grand Apizza Shoreline on East Main Street in Clinton.
The business has been in the family since the 1950s.
Brittany said, "I usually help my mom with whatever she says. I like to help."
However, after a visit earlier this month from an investigator with the state Department of Labor's Wage and Workplace division, the family was told it was violating state law.
"Somebody reported me. An anonymous report that I had child labor here. I told them they were my children and they said, 'Well they can't be here,'" Michael said.
That means the children can no longer help out. So the Nuzzos are suing the acting commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Labor. State law says its illegal to employ minors in specific occupations.
Migdalia Nuzzo said, "We're not slave drivers. We're just teaching them what we know. So when they become adults, if they go to college and they do whatever they have to do in life, and it's something they don't like, then they have something to fall back on."
Michael said, "They are attacking my tradition, my culture. Being Italian, this is how we were raised. It attacks my integrity."
The couple said they were not suing for money, just to run their business without interference.
The Department of Labor referred all comments through Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's office. On Wednesday afternoon, his office released a statement and said, "There has been no enforcement action by the state Department of Labor against the owners of Grand Apizza in Clinton. My office has just received a copy of the lawsuit (Wednesday). We will carefully review the allegations and facts surrounding the case."
At the age of 14, the state said working papers can be obtained to work some hours.