February 23, 2024

The Exclusive Poultry Illegally Hired Children For Dangerous Jobs

The Exclusive Poultry illegally hired children for dangerous  jobs, robbed workers of wages, and retaliated by firing employees, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The California poultry processor has agreed to pay nearly  $3.8 million in back wages, damages, and penalties.

The Exclusive Poultry Illegally Hired Children For Dangerous Jobs

Investigators found that The Exclusive Poultry and related companies established by the owner allegedly employed children as young as 14 to debone poultry using sharp knives and to operate power-driven lifts to move pallets. The children also worked excessive hours in violation of federal child labor laws. In addition, the company retaliated against workers who cooperated with investigators by cutting their wages.

The Exclusive Poultry and owner Tony Bran are subject to a consent judgment entered by the U.S. District Court for the Central Department of California on November 16, 2023.

The investigation included two poultry plants controlled by Mr. Bran in the City of Industry and La Puente, California. The company provided chicken to supermarkets including Ralphs, ALDI, Grocery Outlet, and SYSCO Corp. They also supplied poultry products to pet food manufacturers Nestle Purina and Royal Canin USA.

The Office of the Solicitor obtained from the U.S. District Court a temporary restraining order and injunction to prevent the company from shipping “hot goods” into commerce. In this case, hot goods are poultry produced in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and any goods produced in a location where the department observed child labor.

Solicitor of Labor Seema Nand said in a statement, “The department will not hesitate to invoke the hot goods provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act — including perishable goods — to combat the scourges of wage theft and child labor in our economy. Employers who violate the FLSA and their downstream distributors and customers should be on notice that we will use all tools at our disposal to protect workers, regardless of age and immigration status. We encourage workers to come forward and report employers that withhold workers’ wages or put their safety at risk.”

The judgment requires that the company retain a monitor for three years to make sure that there is compliance, and to show a hiring preference for those workers they fired following the investigation.

Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman said in a statement, “The Exclusive Poultry and owner Tony Bran willfully withheld workers’ hard-earned wages, endangered young workers and retaliated against employees to conceal their wrongdoing. The Wage and Hour Division will continue to work at every level of the industry to prevent employers or retailers from exploiting workers, including children, for profit.”

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