I live in California and once a week I see a gardener mowing the neighbors' lawn. He may be here legally or illegally (as millions are) and that's a different issue.

The issue is that he has a kid with him every time. The boy is maybe 13 or 14. He deserves an education that is not limited to how to mow a lawn. In other words, he should be in school.

I called the police. They don't want to deal with it and referred me to Child Protective Services. I called them too and they don't want to deal with it. They said I should find out where he lives and what school he should attend, and then report him to the school.

I work full time and don't have time to follow this guy around and watch him and his slave child do yard work. I don't speak Spanish otherwise I would start engaging in a conversation and ask him outright where he lives, and maybe pretend to be interested in hiring him so I could get his info.

Isn't there any agency that I can contact that will actually take some action?

  • 2
    Maybe I'm a cynic, but my gut reaction says to contact the relevant tax authorities with concerns that this business isn't handling its taxes correctly. Either that, or some sort of Fraternal Brotherhood of Landscaper Workers United union. Either of those should put a stop to this if anything untoward is happening.
    – Patrick87
    Feb 29, 2016 at 21:40
  • Maybe he's home schooled. Maybe I'm old, but is 14 still old enough to drop out of school with parent's permission? Not sure about child labor laws, but I worked in family tobacco fields before started first grade. This kid helping family business. Apr 1, 2016 at 12:30
  • What makes you think that this boy is not receiving an education?
    – erebus
    Mar 29, 2020 at 22:09

2 Answers 2


There appears to be no "oppressive child labor" occurring and therefore no breach of labor laws. The definition of oppressive child labor expressly excludes employment by "a parent or a person standing in place of a parent" except in identified hazardous occupations; gardening not being one of those.

Notwithstanding, schooling in California is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 18 subject to a number of exemptions which the person concerned may or may not have. If you are concerned about this you should contact the Department of Education.


The federal law Fair Labor Standards Act sets 14 as the minimum age for employment, requiring the work to be during non-school hours, up to 3 hours a day on a school day. However, under Work Experience and Career Exploration Program, minors age 14-15 can be employed during school hours. If the child has been expelled or excused from school. Bear in mind that homeschooling is legal in California. California law pretty much mirrors this. To report this at the state level, you fill in this form, and a complaint can be filed at the federal level by following these procedures for a third-party complaint (you will have to mentally translate "you" into "the child" since they ask for your employer's name, and what they mean is, what would the child say if he/she were filling out the form). You can call them and ask for the nearest Wages and Hours Division office, where you can actually supply the information.

  • So what you're saying is, the poor kid has no other options other than filing a complaint against his abusive dad with a state agency for labor law violations? How realistic is this?
    – OCResident
    Feb 29, 2016 at 23:58
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    I wasn't saying anything about what the child could do, I was telling you one of the options open for a third party, since that seems to be what you asked about. The other relates to truancy laws, not any easier and there is no federal version. If you looked at the forms / information about filing a complaint, I think you will see why you got those responses from CPS and the police.
    – user6726
    Mar 1, 2016 at 0:10

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