Over 5,700 minors have been hired and employed illegally since 2020 with more than 900 companies, according to the data provided by the Department of Labor. This was a highly concentrated disaster within poultry companies in California.
Exclusive, Valtierra, and Meza, three poultry facilities, were investigated and was discovered that employers directed workers under the age of 18 to use sharp knives to debone and that cut poultry. According to Food Wire, “The company also directed minors to work longer and at times not permitted by law, as well as failing to pay overtime wages.”
“These employers endangered children, stole their wages and threatened them with retaliation if they spoke to investigators about their illegal activity,” Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez said in a statement.
The agency had given fines and legal punishments for child labor, recordkeeping, wage payments, abuse against employees, and obstructing a federal investigation. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California approved an amended injunction last week after discovering the processors had plans to reopen their facilities Oct. 28, mentioned by Food Wire.
District Judge Mark Scarsi ordered the defendants to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act and compensate their workers accordingly.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture had sent out a statement to 18 corporate poultry companies in the demand to end child labor, including in their supply chains.