The Labor Department says a sanitation contractor employed dozens of youngsters in harmful roles at meatpacking vegetation in Nebraska and Minnesota.
The company went to federal court docket on Wednesday searching for an injunction towards Packer’s Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI), alleging at the least 31 youngsters had labored for the corporate in “oppressive child labor.” Officials say they ranged in age from 13 to 17, and their tasks included cleansing hazardous tools throughout in a single day shifts.
The Labor Department mentioned in its submitting that Packer’s violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by using the minors, who allegedly labored at vegetation owned by meatpacking large JBS and the poultry processor Turkey Valley Farms.
“The Labor Department also alleged that PSSI violated the law by “intimidating minor workers to stop them from cooperating with investigators.””
The agency has asked a judge to issue a temporary restraining order preventing the company from employing minors while it continues to investigate.
“Investigators also learned that several minors employed by PSSI — including one 13-years-old — suffered caustic chemical burns and other injuries,” the Labor Department said in a press release.
PSSI could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.
In its filing, the Labor Department also alleged that PSSI violated the law by “intimidating minor workers to stop them from cooperating with investigators.” They say the company “manipulated and deleted” employment files.
Officials began their investigation in August after receiving a referral from local law enforcement about possible child labor violations at a plant in Grand Island, Nebraska. Investigators then interviewed confidential sources about kids allegedly cleaning the facility during graveyard shifts.
Investigators “witnessed multiple workers entering the JBS facility in Grand Island, Nebraska, during the PSSI overnight cleaning shift who appeared to be minors based on their stature and appearance,” according to the court filing.
Officials say they subpoenaed school records from local middle and high schools and determined “three minors had worked overnight shifts for PSSI at the Grand Island JBS facility,” including one who suffered a chemical burn.
On its website, PSSI says it offers cleaning and sanitation services to the meatpacking and warehousing industries. It’s common for large companies like JBS to contract out sanitation work to outside companies so that the workers are technically employed by other firms even though they work inside the plant.
The agency bills itself as “your partner in waste reduction and cost savings.”
Other Labor Department filings present PSSI not too long ago hired union-avoidance consultants to prevent employees from joining the United Food and Commercial Workers union.