Recently, the U.S. Dept. of Labor (DOL) announced its crackdown on child labor law violations. Packers Sanitation Services (PSS) slaughterhouses in eight Midwestern states paid $1.5 million in fines in accordance with the terms of a consent decree signed in December 2022.
In addition, a compliance specialist is authorized to conduct child labor audits over the next three years, the results of which will be forwarded to the Labor Department. PSS employs 17,000 employees at 700 sites all over the United States.
What was discovered?
The regional administrator for the Chicago DOL division reported that their investigation revealed minors as young as 13 worked third shifts for PSS and used “caustic chemicals to clean razor-sharp saws.”
He added that when the Wage and Hour Division authorities served the warrants, the minors’ recruiters, hiring managers and supervisors attempted to obstruct the investigation.
How fines add up
Under the terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act, companies that violate the laws governing the employment of minors face fines of $15,138 per minor employee. While PSS is not suspected of human trafficking, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigators are determining whether individuals connected to the minors may have forced them to work so they could profit.
New York has strong employment laws
While there is no indication that the above case is linked to any New York businesses, the tentacles of illegal employment operations extend pretty far, and employers need to take a warning: Child labor has serious consequences.
Fortunately, New York provides its workers with some of the strongest employment protections in the nation. However, state laws regarding employment discrimination and wage and hour violations are complex. You may need to