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In a lawsuit filed in federal court, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) said that children as young as 13 were illegally employed by one of the nation’s largest food safety providers, Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI). The company reportedly hired more than two dozen kids to clean up murder floors and slaughterhouses.
According to court documents, some workers suffered injuries, including chemical burns. Investigators said a 14-year-old worked shifts between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., reportedly cleaned meat slicers for up to 18 hours a week before school, fell asleep during classes, or skipped them altogether.
In addition, the labor department alleged that PSSI interfered with the investigation, intimidated workers and discouraged cooperation with investigators. The agency stated that employees of the company also changed or even deleted employment files.
Regional Pay and Hours Administrator Michael Lazzeri said in the DOL announcement that by abusing children, exposing them to workplace hazards — and interfering with a federal investigation, PSSI was demonstrating “blatant disregard for the law and for the welfare of young people”. workers.”
Quote earlier research to worker safety at other companies that put workers at risk during the coronavirus pandemic, the Washington Post noted that this “brightens another bright spotlight on the meatpacking industry, which has been criticized for exposing workers to hazardous conditions that have resulted in serious injuries and deaths.”
Chicago-based Regional Solicitor of Labor Christine Heri said in the DOL release that “The Department of Labor will use all available legal resources to protect workers — regardless of age — and hold them accountable to employers who mistakenly believe that they may violate Fair Labor rules.” Standards Act, obstructing federal investigations and retaliating against workers who stand up for their rights.”
The Department of Labor filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court for Nebraska on November 9, 2022.
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