Packers Sanitation Services was ordered by a federal court to immediately comply with child labor laws at all facilities it operates in after an investigation revealed the company was endangering teen workers.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska issued a consent order and judgment Dec. 6 in which Packers agreed to take significant steps to ensure compliance at all facilities nationwide.
Employed at least 50 teen workers in hazardous occupations
A temporary restraining order was placed on the company Nov. 10 after the Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division found 31 children – from ages 13 to 17 – employed by Packers in hazardous occupations at multiple JBS USA plants.
Those children were found performing hazardous tasks, such as cleaning dangerous powered equipment during overnight shifts, with several of the teen workers suffering caustic chemical burns and other injuries.
Since the issuance of the temporary restraining order, the number of teen workers verified to be employed by Packers is at least 50 across two additional locations with different processors, including George’s Inc. and Greater Omaha Packing Co. That number may increase as the investigation continues.
The Wage and Hour Division investigation is ongoing.
The investigation began Aug. 24, 2022, after the Wage and Hour Division received “credible information alleging Packers Sanitation assigned minors to work in hazardous occupations.”
In response, warrants were executed for the company’s operations at its local offices, corporate office and three JBS USA plants.
Compliance specialist will audit, conduct surprise inspections
Under the terms of the consent order and agreement, Packers agreed to:
- immediately review existing policies and training materials for compliance with child labor laws and ensure hiring and on-boarding of workers follows all child labor laws
- hire a third-party compliance specialist within 90 days to provide quarterly child labor compliance training to all management personnel for a period of three years and annually thereafter
- work with the compliance specialist, prior to any training, to review and revise as necessary company policies and procedures for compliance with child labor laws
- allow the compliance specialist to monitor and audit compliance with the child labor provisions for a period of three years including periodic, unannounced site visits on a quarterly basis
- include a child labor provision in its contract template provided to clients with the name and contact information of the compliance specialist for concerns regarding child labor at their establishment
- impose sanctions, including termination or suspension, on any management personnel responsible for child labor violations after the date of the court order
- notify the DOL – within 45 days after the entry of the court order – of each individual under 18 years of age whose employment was terminated after the date of the entry of the order
- post the consent order and judgment at each of its own facilities where employee notices are posted for a period of not less than 60 days, and
- provide the DOL publication Fact Sheet #43 regarding the child labor provisions of the FLSA to each of its employees, in the language used by the employee.
The DOL will also “promptly notify Packers Sanitation in writing of any individuals it believes to be employed in violation of Fair Labor Standards Act child labor provisions and any other alleged violation of the consent order and judgment” for a period of six months.
Packers then has 10 days to remedy any such violation before the DOL proceeds with any action for contempt of the consent order and judgment.