Underage Workers Caught at Major US Company

Underage Workers Caught at Major US Company

(UnitedVoice.com) – The first US child labor law went into effect in the 1930s. Since then, the government has taken steps to strengthen and enforce those regulations. Recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) recently took action against one of the nation’s largest food safety sanitation service providers.

On February 17, the federal agency announced Packers Sanitation Services Inc. LTD (PSSI) has paid civil penalties exceeding $1.5 million. According to a press release, the company employed at least 102 teenagers ages between the ages of 13 and 17 at 13 meat processing plants. The DOL opened an investigation into the sanitation service provider in August 2022 after receiving a tip about minors working in hazardous conditions and using dangerous chemicals.

The Solicitor’s Office filed a complaint regarding the issue in the District Court of Nebraska on November 9, 2022. At the time, the DOL Wage and Hour Division only knew about 31 kids working at a handful of facilities. The next month, PSSI agreed to comply with child labor laws in all of its factories around the country. The violations turned out to be more wide-reaching than anyone initially thought.

Ten of the 13 meat packers had no more than six minors working. However, JBS Foods in Nebraska employed 27 underage children. JBS Foods in Minnesota hired 22 minors, and Cargill Inc in Kansas employed 26 kids. The majority of the penalties were paid by three factories; they owed a combined total of $1,135,350 in fines.

Michael Lazzeri, the Chicago regional administrator for the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, accused PSSI of ignoring the agency’s flags when its probe found minors working at the factories. When the federal agency showed up with warrants, the people who hired the minors “tried to derail [the] efforts to investigate [PSSI’s] employment practices.”

In December, Lazzeri revealed that child labor violations have shockingly increased across the country by 50% since 2018.

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