Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Tennessee firm illegally employed minors to clean meat saws, head splitters at slaughterhouses, Labor Dept. says

By 37ci3 Feb21,2024


Another industrial slaughterhouse cleaner was accused by the U.S. Department of Labor of illegally hiring children as young as 13 to work night shifts to clean hazardous equipment, according to a temporary restraining order filed in federal court on Wednesday.

Tennessee-based Fayette Janitorial LLC illegally employed 15 children to clean a Perdue Farms poultry plant in Virginia and nine children to clean a Seaboard Triumph Foods pork processing plant in Iowa, the Labor Department said. They cleaned equipment like head splitters and meat tapes.

Fayette has 600 employees in 30 states, according to the company’s website.

Photo of an adult Fayette Sanitation worker picking up animal parts at a processing plant taken during an investigation of Fayette Sanitation by the US Department of Labor.
Photo of an adult Fayette Sanitation worker picking up animal parts at a processing plant. US Department of Labor

Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to work in slaughterhouses because the federal government considers the work too dangerous.

Last summer, at the age of 16 migrant When he was killed in a Mississippi slaughterhouse they put him in the car that he is cleaning.

“Federal laws were established decades ago to prevent employers from profiting from the employment of children in hazardous work, yet we continue to find employers exploiting children.” said Jessica Looman, administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. “Unfortunately, as we saw in this case, employers’ violations of federal child labor laws have real consequences in children’s lives. Our measures to prevent these violations will help prevent more children from being injured in the future.”

Fayette did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

NBC News first reported in October. FBI agents discovered dozens of children He works at Gerber’s Poultry in Kidron, Ohio, and has a sanitation contract with Fayette. Most of the children are from Guatemala.

child labor
Gerber’s Poultry Processing Plant in Kidron, Ohio.Google Maps

At the time, Gerber’s Poultry said in a statement: “We were surprised to learn that our facility in Kidron, Ohio, is the subject of an investigation by federal law enforcement agencies regarding the composition of our employees and certain third-party contractors. We are cooperating fully with that investigation. While we are confident in our process to ensure we comply with all federal regulations, we actively review our policies to ensure compliance at every level and will continue to review our relationships with third-party vendors and their policies in a similar manner.”

Fayette has also been investigated by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for serious safety violations, including a July 2022 incident at Gerber’s Poultry where a worker became trapped on a conveyor belt.

OSHA referred to Fayette Janitorial for failing to ensure that its employees followed proper procedures by making sure the machines were turned off. According to OSHA’s enforcement page, Fayette paid $13,052 in fines. The agency lists the accident as an amputation on its website.

Fayette is the second major slaughterhouse cleaner found by the Department of Labor to employ children.

In 2023, the Department of Labor found that the national company Packers Sanitation Services Inc. Employed more than 100 children in 13 places. The company paid a $1.5 million civil penalty.

In response to the Department of Labor’s investigation, PSSI said, “PSSI has an absolute zero-tolerance policy against hiring anyone under the age of 18 and is fully committed to ensuring that this is enforced at all local plants.”

Overall, the Department of Labor reports that the number of children illegally employed by companies has increased by 152% since 2018. Many of them are Central Americans who came to the United States as unaccompanied minors. More than 300,000 children, mostly from Guatemala and Honduras, have entered the United States on their own in the past three years, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.



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By 37ci3

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