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Kate Gosselin's Birthday and Child-Labor Laws

Kate Gosselin turns 36 today. Gosselin is famous mostly for her (and her eight kids’) starring role in the reality show Jon and Kate Plus Eight, now Kate Plus Eight. The show has been good for Kate Gosselin, but was TLC running afoul of federal child labor laws when it filmed the Gosselin kids?

Law professor Kimberlianne Podlas says no. She argues that the children are just being filmed in their daily life, not acting. The mere presence of cameras does not mean they are working, just as a marathon runner “does not suddenly become an employee of the Boston Athletic League or NBC by virtue of them using footage of her,” she argues. And even if what they do is work, federal labor law has the “Shirley Temple” exemption for child actors.

Pennsylvania investigated the show for potential violations of state law, and concluded that the show’s producers should have obtained child-labor permits but it did not file charges. Podlas argues, however, that even if “a parent’s putting their child on reality television does not transform the child into an employee … the duty to protect the child and the blame for failing to do so lies not with labor law or reality television, but with the parent.” Kate Gosselin may not have broken the law, but she might be a bad parent.