HomeLatest NewsDOL Says, Minors Were Hired to Clean Dangerous Equipment at Meat Plants

DOL Says, Minors Were Hired to Clean Dangerous Equipment at Meat Plants

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According to court documents, the Department of Labor has issued a temporary restraining and injunction nationwide against a Tennessee company, accusing it of hiring minors for overnight shifts in slaughtering and packing plants.

The DOL said on Wednesday that Fayette Cleaning Service LLC, an industrial cleaning service provider “illegally hired” “children to clean, sanitize and disinfect spaces and equipment overnight to fulfill sanitation contracts in a Perdue Plant in Accomac Virginia and at Seaboard Triumph Foods LLC Sioux City.”

The agency stated that the Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits minors “from working in dangerous occupations including most jobs in meat, poultry slaughtering and processing, rendering, and packing establishments.”

According to court documents filed by the Department, the company contracted 15 children in Virginia as young as thirteen years old. The firm allegedly hired nine minors to work overnight shifts for sanitation in Iowa.

The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division investigated the Iowa facility and found that minors employed by the company were hired to clean power-driven machinery, such as meat and bone saws, head splitters, and jaw pullers.

Court filings claim that children employed at the Virginia plant were also required to clean power-driven machines for meat processing. In 2022, the department reported that a 14-year-old child who worked at the facility had “severe injuries” while working for Fayette. The filings state that the child “reached in a machine to remove debris” and the machinery ripped the child’s arm. The minor sustained “significant bleeding and severe lacerations.”

Someone at the Perdue Facility sanitation office called 911 and reported Minor Child J’s injuries. The dispatcher asked Minor Child J’s age. The caller replied ‘um’, and the line died… The court documents state that when the call was reconnected 30 seconds later, Minor Child J told the dispatcher he was 19 years old.

The article said that the child had to be hospitalized for a total of 12 days and missed a whole month of school. He also required three surgeries “including significant skin grafts between his legs and arms and six months of therapy before he was able to move his arm.”

Seema Nanda, the Labor Solicitor, accused the company of “egregious violations” of labor law.

Fayette Janitorial LLC spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation the company had “a zero-tolerance policy for minor work in the workplace.” The spokesperson said that the company has “fully cooperated and complied with an ongoing investigation of the Department of Labor relating to events that have occurred in previous years.”

“We’ve worked hard to prevent something like this from happening. Fayette made many improvements to its hiring procedures over the last two years, including the addition of biometric technology, a new CEO, and a third-party lawyer to help with the vetting process. Fayette Janitorial commits to providing lawful and ethical employment as well as safe and secure working conditions.

We reported previously that the DOL opened an investigation against Tyson Foods, and Perdue Farms on allegations that these companies illegally hired migrant workers to work in dangerous positions at their meat-packing and slaughtering facilities.

The New York Times published a story in September about a 14-year-old migrant worker whose arm had been mutilated at a Virginia facility. The outlet reported that the child had provided fake documents claiming he was in his 20s. The Times reported that the Perdue factory was “full” of children who were working in violation of the child labor laws.

Perdue stated in a statement from September that “we are appalled” by the recent allegations, as they do not represent who we are and what we believe.

Perdue and Tyson Foods both stated at the time that they had not been notified by the DOL about any investigations pending. Tyson Foods had previously refused to comment on an NPR request.

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