Department of Labor and Workforce Development



Deborah K. Henderson
Public Information Officer
615/741-2257 (O)
615/672-3892 (H)


NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Michael E. Magill today called on parents and schoolteachers to be alert to door-to-door (youth peddling) sales activities by underage minors in their community.

Typically, businesses begin recruiting minors to conduct their door-to-door sales around the first of April when the weather begins to warm and there is more daylight.

The Commissioner said that recent complaints to the Division of Labor Standards indicate that businesses across Tennessee could be violating the Child Labor Act by employing underage children to conduct door-to-door sales, and in some cases, under the pretense of supporting anti-drug education in schools.

"While there are legitimate organizations and businesses like the Girl Scouts and school functions who volunteer to sell goods or services for non-profit or governmental agencies, others who claim they are helping kids by keeping them out of trouble, pocket the profits and break the law by using underage minors in sales," Magill explained. "We are concerned that children are being taken advantage of and may be exposed to danger or become victims themselves."

"The Tennessee Child Labor Act, amended last year (May 1999) by the state legislature, states that minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from selling merchandise (youth peddling) at a customer’s residence, at a customer’s place of business, or in public places such as street corners or public transportation stations," Magill said. Additionally, any person who employs a minor under the age of 16 in youth peddling and transports the youth more than five miles from his or her residence is subject to a fine of up to $10,000 if two or more of the following factors are present:

  1. The minor is working more than three (3) hours a day on a school day;
  2. The minor is working more than eighteen (18) hours a week during a school week;
  3. The minor is working more than eight (8) hours a day on non-school days;
  4. The minor is working more than forty (40) hours a week during a non-school week;
  5. The minor is working after 7 p.m., if the next day is a school day; or
  6. The employer fails to comply with the record keeping requirements.

Some business owners questioned by labor officials about the illegal use of youth peddling insist they are promoting the "development of youth responsibility."

Officials say youth peddling is a national problem, with some businesses moving from state to state. It is believed that some of these groups may be operating in Tennessee. Department officials have received consumer complaints on the following businesses operating in Tennessee under the names of "Tennessee Teen Ministry," "Tennessee Junior Careers," and "Tennessee Teens Against Drugs and Alcohol."

Florida authorities say that the kids "get very little out of the deal," and these businesses prey on the poor. Complaints indicate some residents are visited after dark by 7 and 10-year-old children selling candy. In some cases, officials say the children come from local public housing developments, transported in vans without seats or seatbelts, and are then dropped off on the street to conduct door-to-door sales for up to, in one case, $.75 per item sold.

Officials say an underage child reportedly pleaded for someone to buy his last candy bar at 10:00 p.m. Florida officials cite an example where a parent who allowed her child to sell candy said she thought "it would teach her kid work ethics."

Commissioner Magill explained that education and heightened awareness from schoolteachers and parents is the best defense against those who seek to exploit underage children in door-to-door sales across Tennessee. "We have worked with the Department of Education in a joint effort to distribute door-to-door information brochures and posters to the schools systems across Tennessee."




The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is an equal opportunity employer. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

El Departmento del Trabajo de (Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development) es un patrono que ofrece igualdad de empleo. Ayudas auxiliaries están disponibles para individuos con impedimentos.



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