May 29, 2024

Tony Downs Food Violated Child Labor Laws, Enters Consent Decree

Tony Downs Food violated child labor laws, according to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), and has entered a consent decree to comply with those laws. The company’s production facilities are in Madelia, Minnesota.

Tony Downs Food Violated Child Labor Laws, Enters Consent Decree

An investigation by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry of the company found that they employed at least eight children between the ages of 14 and 17 to operate meat-processing equipment. The children operated meat grinders, ovens, and forklifts during overnight shifts. One child was only 13 years old.

State child labor laws prohibit minors from working in hazardous occupations. The audit period was from January 26, 201 through January 26, 2023.

When the investigation began, DLI investigators asked the district court to issue a temporary restraining order and injunction against Tony Downs Food to stop the company from illegally employing children in hazardous occupations. The district court issued the temporary restraining order and injunction on March 15, 2023.

DLI Commissioner Nicole Blissenbach said in a statement, “The consequences of child labor violations are substantial and the Department of Labor and Industry is committed to combatting these violations. This is why DLI is focused on strategic enforcement of the Minnesota Child Labor Standards Act, devoting investigatory resources on industries where violations are most likely to occur and using all available mechanisms to aggressively enforce the law. In this case, Tony Downs has agreed to take important steps to prevent child labor violations. All employers should provide training to their employees to help recognize potential child labor violations and take steps to ensure they are not employing children in violation of state and federal laws.”

On September 8, 2023, the Fifth District Court in Watonwan County, Minnesota, issued a consent order. The company agreed to comply with the Minnesota Child Labor Standards Act and will pay $300,000 in administrative penalties.

Tony Downs Food will be required to hire a third-party compliance specialist to provide training, adopt or revise policies, and monitor compliance. The company will also have to make sure that policies, procedures, and training related to its agreement are communicated to employees. They will also have to notify DLI of child labor violations found, and cure them within 10 days, and submit regular reports to DLI that are drafted by the compliance specialist.

The Minnesota Child Labor Stanares Act prohibits employers from employing minors in hazardous occupations. Companies may also not have minors under the age of 16 work after 9 pm, more than 8 hours in a day, or more than 40 hours in a week.

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