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U.S. Department of Labor Requests Injunction to Stop Company From Employing Minors in Meat Plants

The motion seeks to stop Fayette Janitorial Service from employing minors to clean meat facilities nationwide, while the DOL continues to investigate the Tennessee-based company.

Chicken Factory

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is asking a federal court in Iowa to issue a nationwide temporary restraining order and injunction against Fayette Janitorial Service (also operating as Fayette Industrial) to stop the Somerville, Tenn.-based company from illegally employing children while the department continues its investigations of the company’s labor practices.

According to the DOL, investigators discovered Fayette employed children to clean and sanitize spaces and equipment during overnight shifts to fulfill sanitation contracts at a Perdue Farms plant in Accomac, Va., and at Seaboard Triumph Foods in Sioux City, Iowa. Fayette operates in about 30 states and employs more than 600 workers.

In its filing, the DOL alleges Fayette employed 15 children, hired as young as 13 years old, in Virginia and at least nine children in Iowa on its overnight sanitation shifts. Minors were used to clean dangerous kill floor equipment such as head splitters, jaw pullers, meat bandsaws, and neck clippers. At least one 14-year-old at the Virginia facility suffered severe injuries while employed by Fayette, according to the DOL.

   Child labor and adulterated products: Why the food industry must do better.

The Fair Labor Standards Act bans children under the age of 18 from working in dangerous occupations, including most jobs in meat and poultry slaughtering, processing, rendering and packing establishments. In fiscal year 2023, department investigators identified child labor violations in 955 cases and assessed employers with more than $8 million in penalties.

“The employment of children in hazardous occupations is an egregious violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act that should never occur,” says Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “The Department of Labor continues to use every available legal resource to protect workers and end child labor violations. We are working diligently with other federal agencies to combat child labor exploitation nationwide.”

In February 2023, the department announced the creation of an Interagency Task Force to Combat Child Labor Exploitation to better align federal efforts to protect children from exploitative situations in the workplace.

“Federal laws were established decades ago to prevent employers from profiting from the employment of children in dangerous jobs, yet we continue to find employers exploiting children.” says Wage and Hour Division Administrator Jessica Looman. “As we’ve unfortunately seen in this case, employers’ violations of federal child labor laws have real consequences on children’s lives. Our actions to stop these violations will help ensure that more children are not hurt in the future.” 

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