Kate Plus 8: How did kids get wrong work permits?

Here are copies of some of the documents involved in Pennsylvania Rep. Thomas Murt's inquiry into the vailidity of the permits issued for the children of Kate Gosselin to particpate in TLC's reality TV series "Kate Plus 8." Read my first report on the story posted yesterday here.

I have copies of the work permits for the Gosslin kids that Rep. Murt was able to obtain last week. I cannot reproduce them here, but the Gosselin children were issued permits for "public performances," which means theater work and plays -- not TV.  The Gosselin kids are clearly not involved in "public performances." That is one key element of what Rep. Murt wants the attorney general to investigate.

The permits were made out to Figure 8 Films, the production company located in Carrboro, North Carolina. They were not made out to TLC. The permits cover April 20 to October 20, 2010, and they are only for "Kate Plus 8.".

Here is a copy of Murt's letter to the attorney general asking him to look into the permits under which the show is now being made.

Attorney General Tom Corbett
Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General
16th Floor, Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120

July 13, 2010

Dear Attorney General Corbett:

I am writing to seek your interpretation of Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Law as it relates to television performances by children in the Commonwealth and whether special permits are available for children younger than seven years old.

Murt's letter continues:

In April, I hosted a hearing of the Pennsylvania House Republican Policy Committee to examine Pennsylvania’s child labor laws.  During that hearing, we heard testimony from Department of Labor and Industry Executive Deputy Secretary Robert O’Brien.  Secretary O’Brien testified that while the Department determined the production “Jon & Kate Plus 8” had not obtained the proper permits for the minors involved in the production, legal action would not be initiated if such permits were obtained for all future productions.  Secretary O’Brien also provided a copy of the agreement between the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance and the producers of the show which states, “...minors under 16 may participate in television performances if a special permit is issued by the Bureau.” 

Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Law, Act 177 of 1915, P.L. 286, Section 7.1(a) states, “The Department of Labor and Industry is hereby authorized to issue special permits for the employment of minors seven and under eighteen years of age in theatrical productions, musical recitals or concerts, entertainment acts, modeling, radio, television, motion picture making, or in other similar forms or media of entertainment in Pennsylvania where the performance of such minor is not hazardous to his safety or well-being...” (emphasis added).  This appears to be the relevant permit for a minor to participate in a television show. 

Section 7.1 (a.1) states, “In addition to any permit authorized by subsection (a), the department shall be authorized to issue special permits for the temporary employment of minors as part of the performing cast in the production of a motion picture, if the department determines that adequate provision has been made for the educational instruction, supervision, health and welfare of the minor.” (emphasis added).  This permit appears to be limited to movies, i.e., a “motion picture.”

As I read the law, permits for children under the age of 7 are available for performing in a movie ((a.1) above), while permits are not available for children under the age of 7 to participate in a television show ((a) above).  If there is a desire to create a permit process for younger children to participate in television shows in Pennsylvania, I would be interested in working with the Department to discuss amendments to Section 7.1(a.1) to include that additional category and outline the appropriate agency oversight role.  In the case of the “Kate Plus 8” production, six of the children involved are under age seven and this age group does not appear to be specifically included in the coverage of the relevant language concerning televisions shows, i.e., Section 7.1(a). 

Given the ambiguity between the two sections, I am writing to seek your interpretation of the law to ensure that the children involved in any television production in the Commonwealth are protected and permitted according to the law. 

I understand that under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act, you are authorized to furnish legal advice to agency heads concerning the interpretation of state laws and regulations.  With that in mind, I am sending a copy of this letter to Labor and Industry Secretary Sandi Vito and asking her to seek your guidance on this issue.

I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

 

Thomas P. Murt
State Representative
152nd Legislative District

Here is Murt's letter to the secretary of labor. This is the office that is being looked at in terms of how and why these permits were issued.

Sandi Vito, Secretary,
Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry
Room 1700
651 Boas Street
Harrisburg, PA 17121

July 13, 2010

Dear Secretary Vito:

Recently, I wrote Attorney General Tom Corbett to seek his interpretation of Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Law as it relates to television performances by children in the Commonwealth and whether special permits are available for children younger than seven years old. A copy of that letter is attached.
 
In April, I hosted a hearing of the Pennsylvania House Republican Policy Committee to examine Pennsylvania’s child labor laws.  During that hearing, we heard testimony from Department of Labor and Industry Executive Deputy Secretary Robert O’Brien.  Secretary O’Brien testified that while the Department determined the production “Jon & Kate Plus 8” had not obtained the proper permits for the minors involved in the production, legal action would not be initiated if such permits were obtained for all future productions.  Secretary O’Brien also provided a copy of the agreement between the Bureau of Labor Law Compliance and the producers of the show which states, “...minors under 16 may participate in television performances if a special permit is issued by the Bureau.” 

Pennsylvania’s Child Labor Law, Act 177 of 1915, P.L. 286, Section 7.1(a) states, “The Department of Labor and Industry is hereby authorized to issue special permits for the employment of minors seven and under eighteen years of age in theatrical productions, musical recitals or concerts, entertainment acts, modeling, radio, television, motion picture making, or in other similar forms or media of entertainment in Pennsylvania where the performance of such minor is not hazardous to his safety or well-being...” (emphasis added).  This appears to be the relevant permit for a minor to participate in a television show. 

Section 7.1 (a.1) states, “In addition to any permit authorized by subsection (a), the department shall be authorized to issue special permits for the temporary employment of minors as part of the performing cast in the production of a motion picture, if the department determines that adequate provision has been made for the educational instruction, supervision, health and welfare of the minor.” (emphasis added).  This permit appears to be limited to movies, i.e., a “motion
picture.”
As I read the law, permits for children under the age of 7 are available for performing in a movie ((a.1) above), while permits may not be available for children under the age of 7 to participate in a television show ((a) above).  If there is a desire to create a permit process for younger children to participate in television shows in Pennsylvania, I would be interested in working with the Department to discuss amendments to Section 7.1(a.1) to include that additional category and outline the appropriate agency oversight role.  In the case of the “Kate Plus 8” production, six of the children involved are under age seven and this age group does not appear to be specifically included in the coverage of the relevant language concerning televisions shows, i.e., Section 7.1(a). 

We can all agree that as the number of film and television productions in Pennsylvania increases, the protection of children involved in those productions should be of paramount importance.  Given the ambiguity between the two sections I cited and to ensure that the children involved in this production or any other television or motion picture production in the Commonwealth, are protected and permitted according to the law, I am writing to ask that you seek the Attorney General’s interpretation of the law as you are authorized to do under Section 204 of the Commonwealth Attorneys Act.

I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,


Thomas P. Murt
State Representative
152nd Legislative District

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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