WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Congressman French Hill (AR-02) introduced the Children’s Consignment Event Recognition Act, legislation to prevent children’s consignment business owners from unnecessary and burdensome Department of Labor (DOL) regulations. The bill would provide an exemption for volunteers at children’s consignment events from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA).
DOL’s outdated policy interferes with the ability of Arkansas families to buy affordable clothes, toys and furniture at children’s consignment events. In 2013, a DOL audit ruled that Conway-based Rhea Lana’s Franchise System, Inc. (Rhea Lana’s) was in violation of FSLA because of the company’s use of volunteers, claiming they were in fact employees. In exchange for the volunteers’ time and services to Rhea Lana’s they are able to get early access to the event and a percentage off of their purchases.
This decision has resulted in fewer consignment sales in Arkansas and 24 other states where Rhea Lana’s operates.
“Arkansas parents looking to provide for their children are being unfairly targeted by the Department of Labor’s dated and burdensome policies. This commonsense legislation preserves an innovative business model for consignment events and protects parents from unfair federal regulations that limit their ability to save money on items children quickly outgrow,” Boozman said.
“As the father of two young boys I know how helpful children’s consignment events can be to Arkansas families. The Department of Labor overstepped their bounds when they changed their interpretation of the law to force a volunteer organization out of business. I am hopeful the Trump administration can revoke the misguided interpretation on their own, but if not I will work with my colleagues to fix the issue through legislation,” Cotton said.
“In situations where federal regulations unduly impact groups or businesses, we need to find ways to reverse that harm. While the Fair Labor Standards Act is well-intended, there are clearly instances in which enforcing it makes no sense. These children’s consignment events that are designed to help parents find affordable clothing for their kids fall into that category. I appreciate Senator Boozman and Senator Cotton’s leadership on this issue, and I look forward to working with them to create an exemption to the FLSA for consignment events like Rhea Lana’s,” Hill said.
“I know the families of Arkansas join me in appreciating Senator Boozman, Senator Cotton and Congressman Hill for introducing the Children’s Consignment Event Recognition Act. For four years we have been fighting the Department of Labor for the rights of families to work together and create a special marketplace to recycle their children’s items,” Rhea Lana Riner, President of Rhea Lana’s Franchise System, Inc. said.
This legislation is endorsed by the International Franchise Association.
The Senate bill was referred to the Help Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The House bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and Workforce.