Meat processor, staffing agency ordered to surrender $327K in child labor bust in City Of Industry

Meat processor, staffing agency ordered to surrender $327K in child labor bust in City Of Industry  NBC Los Angeles

Meat processor, staffing agency ordered to surrender $327K in child labor bust in City Of Industry

City of Industry Meat Processor and Staffing Agency Ordered to Surrender Illegal Profits for Employing Minors

A City of Industry meat processor and Downey staffing agency was ordered to surrender over $327K in illegal profits after employing minors as young as 15, the U.S. Department of Labor announced on Tuesday. 

Investigation Reveals Joint Employment and Endangerment of Children

An investigation led by the department’s Wage of Hour Division revealed that meat processor A&J Meats and staffing agency The Right Hire “jointly employed and endangered children.”

Judgment and Penalties

The judgment, made by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, also requires the employers to pay the department $62,516 in penalties. 

Illegal and Oppressive Practices

The illegal and oppressive practices include ordering children to use dangerous knives, allowing them to work inside freezers, and scheduling them to work at unlawful times exceeding limits set by Child Labor Laws.

Violation of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), minors under the age of 18 cannot be employed in hazardous occupations and “cannot do most jobs in meat and poultry slaughtering, processing, rendering or packing establishments.”

Increase in Illegal Child Employment

Since 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor has seen a 69% increase in children being employed illegally by companies. 

Simultaneously, there has been a great influx of migrant children from Latin America fleeing violence and poverty, who are especially vulnerable in the face of illegal child employment, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The actions taken by the U.S. Department of Labor align with several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations. These goals include:

  1. No Poverty
  2. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  3. Reduced Inequalities
  4. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

Responsibility of Companies and Staffing Agencies

“This is not a 19th-century problem – this is a today problem. This is a problem that will take all of us to stop,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.

Walsh stressed that companies often push the responsibility of illegal child employment to their staffing agency or subcontractor, which is unlawful.

“Companies that use staffing agencies to meet their labor needs cannot escape liability for child labor violations when they are in fact also employers themselves.” Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez also warned.

Previous Record of Illegal Employment

A&J owner Priscilla Helen Castillo’s father, Tony Bran, also has a record of illegally employing children at poultry processing companies.

Bran employed children as young as 14 to debone poultry using sharp knives and operate power-driven lifts to move pallets. 

Last year, the same court ordered Bran to “stop endangering children, withholding pay, and retaliating, etc.,” making him and his companies pay $3.5 million in back wages and damages to workers. 

Additional Requirements and Monitoring

Besides paying nearly $400K, the businesses and A&J owner Castillo are now required to provide annual FLSA training for at least four years and submit to monitoring by an independent third party for three years.

Holding Employers Accountable

“No employer should ever profit from exploited children,” Administrator Rosalez announced in the news release. “When we find children employed in violation of the law, we will take steps to ensure that we can hold all employers accountable under the law.”

Reporting Labor Law Violations

To report a labor law violation, visit the California Labor Commissioner’s Office website or contact the Wage and Hour Division with questions or concerns at 1-866-4-US-WAGE.

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth 8.7: Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms. – The illegal employment of minors as young as 15 by A&J Meats and The Right Hire is a violation of child labor laws.
– The judgment requiring the employers to surrender $327K in illegal profits and pay $62,516 in penalties indicates the consequences for violating child labor laws.
– The increase in children being employed illegally by companies, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, shows the need for measures to eradicate child labor.
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities 10.7: Facilitate orderly, safe, regular, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies. – The article mentions the influx of migrant children from Latin America who are vulnerable to illegal child employment, highlighting the need for safe and responsible migration policies.