December 10, 2022

Child Labor at JBS Meat Packing Plants Uncovered in Lawsuit

Child labor at JBS meat packing plants in Minnesota and Nebraska has allegedly been uncovered in a court injunction. No employer in the United States can use any oppressive child labor in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. Children aged 14 and 15 can be employed outside school hours but only in specified non-manufacturing and non-hazardous jobs, for limited periods of time and under specific conditions.

Child Labor at JBS Meatpacking Plants Uncovered in Lawsuit

Children were allegedly seen working on the killing floor, which is specifically prohibited under the Department of Labor’s Child Labor Regulations. Children are only allowed to be messengers on killing floors, or similar occupations that require them to enter the area infrequently and only for short periods of time.

No child may work on “meat patty forming machines, meat and bone cutting saws, poultry scissors or shears; meat slivers, knives, (except bacon-slicing machines);  head splitters, guillotine cutters; snout pullers and jaw pullers; skimming machines; horizontal rotary washing machines; casing-cleaning machines such as crushing, stripping, and finished machines; grinding mixing, chopping, and hashing machines; and presses (except belly-rolling machines).”

The defendant in this case is Packers Sanitation Services (PSSI), a limited liability company organized in Ohio, with principal office in Kieler, Wisconsin. The company operates an office in Grand Island, Nebraska.

The child labor at JBS plants allegedly included at least 31 children, ranging in age from 13 to 17, in JBS plants in Grand Island, Nebraska and Worthington, Minnesota, and at a Turkey Valley Farms plant in Marshall, Minnesota, according to the complaint. In addition, the complaint states that several of the children had caustic chemical burns and other injuries as a result of this labor.

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour investigators allegedly found that a minor under the age of 14 was working at one JBS facility. Minors under the age of 16 were allegedly working during overnight shifts while school is in session, which is prohibited, and minors under the age of 18 were cleaning the killing floor and were employed at the JBS slaughtering and meatpacking establishment in Grand Island, Nebraska cleaning power-driven machines, including meat and bone cutting saws.

PSSI is also alleged to have interfered in the investigation, telling the children to not cooperate with investigators. The company also allegedly deleted employee files.

The U.S. Department of Labor asked the federal court to issue a nationwide temporary restraining order and injunction against Packers Sanitation Services following this investigation. Judge John M. Gerrard ordered the injunction.

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