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DOL Seeks Injunction Against Company for Employing Underage Workers

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 12: United States Department of Labor in Washington, DC on November 12, 2015.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) filed for a nationwide injunction against a cleaning company for employing underage children to work overnight shifts cleaning dangerous equipment in slaughterhouses.

Fayette Janitorial Service LLC, based in Somerville, Tenn., provides cleaning services at meat-processing facilities in several states, including Iowa and Virginia, where a DOL investigation found that the company had hired underage teenagers to clean equipment.

The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits children under the age of 18 from working in dangerous occupations, including most jobs in meat and poultry slaughtering, processing and packing facilities.

We’ve rounded up articles and resources from SHRM Online and other outlets to provide more context on the news.

Cleaning Slaughterhouses

The DOL found that Fayette had hired at least 24 children between the ages of 13 and 17 to work the overnight shift cleaning power-driven equipment at a Perdue plant in Accomack County, Va., and at a plant operated by Seaboard Triumph Foods in Sioux City, Iowa. One child, hired by Fayette at age 13, was seriously injured in the Perdue plant in February 2022.

(The New York Times)

Florida Lawmakers Move Bills Allowing Teens to Work Longer

The Florida House recently passed legislation that would remove restrictions prohibiting 16- and 17-year-olds from working more than eight hours when they have classes the next day and from working more than 30 hours a week when school is in session. A provision that would have allowed teens to work overnight was taken out of the original bill. A state Senate committee approved a similar proposal in January.

(Tallahassee Democrat)

Child Labor Is a Growing Problem

The number of minors illegally employed in cases pursued by the DOL has soared 69 percent since 2018. Now, each child labor violation incident involves an average of five minors working illegally, up from three in 2018.

In fiscal year 2023, DOL investigators identified child labor violations in 955 cases and assessed employers with more than $8 million in penalties.

There are multiple reasons for the surge, experts say. Some employers are willing to ignore child labor laws amid a tight labor market, especially because fines are relatively low and enforcement is limited. The increase is also linked to an influx of undocumented workers, including unaccompanied minors, into the country. Another factor is that better targeting by regulators has led to more abuse being uncovered.

(SHRM Online)

HR Q&A: What Do I Need to Consider When Hiring a Minor?

Employers considering hiring minors first must understand the federal and state laws as they relate to the employment of young people.

(SHRM Online)

SHRM Express Requests: Employing Teens/Child Labor Laws

Look here to find information—including articles and government resources—relating to the employment of minors.

(SHRM Online)


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