Slaughterhouse cleaning company fined $649,000 for child labor

Slaughterhouse cleaning company fined $649,000 for child labor

A janitorial company has been fined $649,000 after an investigation found it hired minors for dangerous jobs cleaning slaughterhouses, the US Department of Labor said Monday.

Fayette Janitorial Services has employed at least 24 children, including those as young as 13, according to a DOL investigation. The minors worked overnight shifts at two separate slaughter facilities, according to the DOL.

Federal labor laws prohibit children from certain jobs in slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants, including operating or cleaning machines, because of the hazardous conditions.

In addition to paying the fine, Fayette must hire a third party to prevent incidents of child labor and provide a way to report concerns that children are being employed.

“The realization that the use of false identification documents has allowed individuals under the age of 18 to circumvent our policies and procedures requires immediate action,” Fayette said in a statement sent to CNN, adding that “substantial investments in proprietary systems and technologies have been shut down.” .the gap that allows this situation to arise.”

The company added that it has been cooperating with the DOL, and that “our goal remains to ensure a safe and compliant work environment for all our employees.”

The remedy comes after a federal court issued a temporary injunction against the company in response to a DOL request in February.

Children were found working at the Seaboard Triumph Foods Plant in Sioux City, Iowa, and at the Perdue Farms chicken processing facility in Accomac, Virginia, according to the DOL. “Minors are used to clean dangerous killing floor equipment such as head splitters, jaw pullers, meat saws, and neck shears,” the Department of Labor said in a February news release describing its investigation findings.

Perdue “terminated our contract with Fayette Janitorial Services prior to this court filing,” a company spokesperson told CNN in a February statement, adding, “underage labor has no place in our business or our industry,” the statement continued.

Seaboard, the pork processor, told CNN in a statement that it “immediately terminated all contracts with Fayette,” upon learning of the Labor Department’s allegations. “Such actions, if true, are in violation of our company’s policies and procedures and violate the strict commitments made by Fayette in their contract,” according to the statement.

“Our company will continue to take all appropriate follow-up measures to protect workers and ensure accountability for its contractors’ compliance with labor and employment laws,” Seaboard said.

Incidents of illegal child labor have increased in recent years, and other contractors have been fined for employing underage workers. Last year, Packers Sanitation Services paid $1.5 million in civil penalties for employing minors in hazardous jobs and making them work overnight shifts, according to a DOL investigation.

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