Arkansas entrepreneur tells U.S. House panel that regulations threaten survival of company
WASHINGTON -- An Arkansas woman who built a consignment sale empire told congressmen Thursday that federal regulations threaten the survival of her company.
Rhea Lana Riner told members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce that she's been locked in a legal battle with the U.S. Department of Labor since 2013.
"If we lose, Rhea Lana's will no longer be able to provide its valuable service to families in need," she said.
Thursday's hearing focused on "Federal Wage and Hour Policies in the Twenty-First Century Economy." The entrepreneur from Faulkner County was the first of four people who addressed the subcommittee on workforce protections.
Riner started her children's clothing consignment company in 1997, holding the first sale in her Conway living room. A few friends gathered, buying and selling items. Since then, her business has mushroomed, with 80 franchises that operate in 23 states.
Many of the mothers who buy or sell gently used kids apparel also volunteered their time and helped run the consignment sales. In exchange, they're allowed to shop before the sale opens to the general public.
But in 2013, the Department of Labor said that Rhea Lana's Inc. was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act because she was using volunteer labor.
Since then, the government agency and Riner have been fighting each other in federal court.
If Rhea Lana's loses, it faces penalties as high as $3.6 million, she said.
Riner portrayed the battle as a struggle between big government and small business, between hardworking moms and oppressive bureaucrats.
"We're continuing to fight for a mother's right to use her personal time as she sees fit to help her family," she said...