In 1903 and 1904, shortly before the opening of the St. Paul Mine in Cherry, Illinois, the state passed child labor laws that pulled twenty-two hundred boys aged eleven to fifteen from the mines. 

During the recovery efforts following the Cherry Mine Disaster, the chief state factory inspector found out that two young boys were among the dead. The inspector told reporters that Illinois mine owners would be immediately ordered to remove everyone under sixteen years of age from their mines.  

 The chief state factory inspector went on to state that most of the age affidavits for the fifteen hundred children that were employed in the mines in 1909 “weren’t worth the paper they were written on”, and owners were being notified to reexamine every affidavit.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act states that an illegally employed minor can reject his or her right to benefits under the Act and file a lawsuit in circuit court. This must be done within 6 months of the date of injury or death of the minor, or within 6 months after the appointment of a legal representative, whichever is later. If the minor decides to pursue workers’ compensation benefits, then he or she must file a waiver of his or her right to reject benefits under the Act. That waiver must be approved by the Commission. Any payment made to an illegally employed minor must also be approved by the Commission. Once the waiver and payment have been approved by the Commission, then the minor cannot later decide to pursue the claim in circuit court.  

 The Act provides also provides additional compensation for the families of an illegally employed minor that is killed in the course and scope of employment. Section 7(g) states that if an injured employee is under 16 years of age at the time of the accident and is illegally employed, the death benefits shall be increased by 50%.

If you are the parent or guardian of an illegally employed minor that is injured while working, do not mess around and try to handle this situation yourself. Get an experienced workers’ compensation attorney involved immediately to make sure that the claim is handled properly.  Feel free to contact me for a free consultation.