Feb 23, 2024
3 mins read
3 mins read

US Company Accused of Illegally Hiring Children to Clean Meat Processing Plants

US Company Accused of Illegally Hiring Children to Clean Meat Processing Plants

DES MOINES, Iowa (NEWSnet/AP) — U.S. authorities have accused a sanitation company of illegally hiring at least two dozen children to clean dangerous meat processing facilities.

U.S. Department of Labor asked a federal judge for an injunction to halt the employment of minors by Tennessee-based Fayette Janitorial Service LLC, saying it believes at least four children were still working at an Iowa slaughterhouse, as of Dec. 12.

U.S. law prohibits companies from employing people younger than 18 to work in meat processing plants. The Labor Department alleges Fayette has used underage workers in hazardous areas where animals are killed and rendered. The agency says children sanitize hazardous equipment, including head-splitters, jaw-pullers and meat bandsaws.

The department’s legal filing details the severe injuries sustained by a 14-year-old who was cleaning the drumstick-packing line belt at a plant in Virginia. Records show Fayette learned the worker was underage after the child was injured and continued to employ the minor anyway, according to an investigator.

A spokesperson for Fayette told The Associated Press the company is cooperating with the investigation, and has made changes to policies to improve hiring practics. That includes hiring a new CEO and using third-party legal representation for vetting, according to the company.

“Fayette has always had a zero-tolerance policy for minor labor in the workforce, and we have continued to work diligently to ensure that something like this cannot occur,” the statement said.

The cleaning company works in about 30 states and employs more than 600 workers, according to the Labor department.

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