Batesville plant named in federal child labor investigation
BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - George’s Inc. in Batesville is one of two Arkansas plants that had minors affected in an investigation into a food safety sanitation service involving children.
According to a news release by the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 100 children were illegally employed in hazardous jobs.
Packers Sanitation Services Inc. LTD, based in Kieler, Wisconsin, has paid $1.5 million in civil money penalties after the department’s Wage and Hour Division found the company employed at least 102 children.
Those children ranged from 13 to 17 years of age and were found in “hazardous occupations and had them working overnights shifts at 13 meat processing facilities in eight states.
Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Michael Lazzeri explained some of the underage workers were injured.
“We did find that over the last three years, there were three minors that were injured in the course of their work and that’s part of the civil monetary penalty,” he said.
The department stated that George’s Inc. had 4 affected minors and $60,552 in penalties were assessed.
“Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the department assessed PSSI $15,138 for each minor-aged employee who was employed in violation of the law. The amount is the maximum civil money penalty allowed by federal law,” he said.
Principal Deputy Administrator Jessica Looman said underage employees could pose a large issue than physical danger.
“The scope of PSSI’s violations leads us to believe that a number of minors actually employed across PSSI’s contract are more than 102 that we verified,” she said. “Pursuant to the consent judgment, PSSI must do its part to identify those children and remove them from dangerous employment while ensuring further compliance.”
The other Arkansas plant is Tyson Food Inc. in Green Forest, Ark. where they had 6 minors affected and over $90,828 penalties assessed.
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