A Nebraska A sanitation service company is facing a major complaint from the Department of Labor for allegedly employing 31 children in illegal work for those under the age of 18.
He accused the company of employing 31 children aged 13 to 17 to clean up “hazardous electrical equipment” at various animal slaughter and meatpacking sites.
The department’s charges include the company allegedly having minors under the age of 16 work after 7 p.m. on a weekday, making them work more than 18 hours during the school year when school is open and forcing them to perform tasks involving dangerous machinery, especially in a slaughter and meat-packing establishment, such as meat and bone saws.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigated the matter based on advice that miners may be working at the facilities of meatpacking chain JBS USA, which is a PSSI customer.
Between September and October, they conducted surveillance and found miners entering JBS facilities in Grand Island, Nebraska, as well as their location in Worthington, Minnesota. Other investigations included interviews with miners at a Marshall, Minnesota facility of a separate company, Turkey Valley Farms, also a PSSI client.
At the JBS site in Grand Island, a 13-year-old suffered severe burns from chemical cleaners.
The complaint further alleged that PSSI had created roadblocks for the department in its efforts to conduct an investigation, a decision which the complainants say “perpetuates oppressive child labor”.
Their allegations of obstruction stemmed from a series of actions by staff at the facility.
The temporary restraining order would play a crucial role in compounding the “irreparable” harm the operation caused to the children, according to the complaint.
On Friday, JBS USA told the Guardian it was urgently looking into the matter, including an investigation and a third-party audit.
“JBS has zero tolerance for child labor, discrimination or unsafe working conditions for anyone working at our facilities,” Michael Koenig, JBS’s chief ethics and compliance officer, said in a statement by E-mail.
In a statement to the Guardian, Turkey Valley said it was conducting an internal review.
“We expect all contractors to share our commitment to the health and safety of everyone working in our facilities and to adhere to these principles which promote a safe working environment as well as all applicable federal and state labor laws,” the company said. adding that he would take the necessary action based on the government’s investigation.
In a statement to The Guardian, PSSI said it had “an absolute company-wide ban on employing anyone under the age of 18 and zero tolerance for any violation of this policy – period.”
“PSSI has state-of-the-art, best-in-class procedures for confirming the identity of its employees, including mandatory use of the government’s E-verify system for new hires, as well as extensive training, document verification, biometrics and multiple layers of audits,” the statement added. “While malicious individuals may of course seek to engage in fraud or identity theft, we are confident in our company’s strict compliance policies. and we will vigorously defend ourselves against these allegations.
“We are also surprised at the [labor department] took this action as PSSI Headquarters cooperated with their investigation, producing detailed documents and responses. PSSI has also worked with the [government] recently completed several successful audits…which found no issues. PSSI will continue to cooperate…and will continue to enforce its absolute ban on employing anyone under the age of 18.