Food safety company allegedly used child labor in dangerous conditions

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In a lawsuit filed in federal court, the US Department of Labor (DOL) said children as young as 13 were illegally employed by one of the nation’s largest food safety providers, Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI). The company allegedly hired more than two dozen children to clean slaughter plants and slaughterhouses.


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According to court documents, some workers suffered injuries, including chemical burns. Investigators said a 14-year-old boy worked shifts between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., allegedly cleaning meat slicers for up to 18 hours a week before going to school, falling asleep in class or skipping class altogether.

In addition, the Department of Labor alleged that PSSI interfered with the investigation, intimidating workers and discouraging cooperation with investigators. The agency claimed that company employees also changed or even deleted employment files.

Regional Wage and Hour Administrator Michael Lazzeri said in the DOL announcement that by “taking advantage of children, exposing them to dangers in the workplace, and interfering with a federal investigation,” PSSI displayed “blatant disregard for the law.” and for the well-being of the young. workers”.

Citing previous investigations into worker safety at other companies that endangered workers during the coronavirus pandemic, the Washington Post He noted that this puts “another spotlight on the meatpacking industry, which has been criticized for exposing workers to dangerous conditions that have led to serious injuries and deaths.”

Chicago-based regional labor attorney Christine Heri said in the DOL statement that “the Department of Labor will use all available legal resources to protect workers, regardless of age, and will hold accountable employers who mistakenly believe that may violate the Fair Labor Act. Standards Act, obstruct federal investigations, and retaliate against workers who stand up for their rights.”

The Department of Labor filed its civil lawsuit in the United States District Court for Nebraska on November 9, 2022.

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