Minnesota meat processing agency accused of using minors

A meat processing firm in Minnesota employed youngsters as younger as 13 to work in hazardous circumstances, akin to working meat grinders, whereas they labored in a single day shifts and longer hours than allowed by legislation, the Minnesota Division of Labor and Business stated Wednesday.

The state company is asking a district court docket to subject a short lived restraining order in opposition to Tony Downs Meals Firm, primarily based in Mankato, whereas it investigates the allegations.

In line with the criticism, the meat processing firm employed a minimum of eight youngsters starting from 14 to 17 at its plant in Madelia. Investigators even have recognized different staff who have been employed earlier than they have been 18 years previous, the division stated.

The younger staff, one in every of whom was 13 years previous when employed, operated meat grinders, ovens and forklifts on in a single day shifts and likewise labored in areas the place meat merchandise are flash frozen with carbon monoxide and ammonia, based on the criticism. In addition they allegedly labored longer hours than permitted by legislation.

The corporate’s studies confirmed some youngsters have been injured whereas working within the harmful areas, based on the criticism.

Messages left after working hours Wednesday for Tony Downs Meals Firm weren’t instantly returned.

The announcement comes after Packers Sanitation Providers Inc., one of many nation’s largest cleansing providers for meals processing firms, was fined greater than $1.5 million in February for using greater than 100 youngsters in harmful jobs at 13 meatpacking vegetation throughout the nation.

At the very least three of the younger staff for Packers Sanitation Providers have been burned by caustic cleansing chemical compounds whereas working at a JBS meatpacking plant in Grand Island, Nebraska, U.S. Division of Labor officers stated.

The investigation into Tony Downs started after the Minnesota labor division acquired a criticism about working circumstances on the Madelia plant, based on the criticism. Investigators carried out an in a single day inspection on Jan. 26-27, interviewed staff, documented working circumstances and contacted space college districts. The corporate additionally supplied worker information by way of February.

The labor division discovered that Tony Downs was conscious of the difficulty. It additionally discovered that minors have been working underneath assumed names and weren’t native English audio system, based on the criticism.

“Youngster labor legal guidelines exist in order that when youngsters are launched to employment, it’s in a protected setting and the work advances the financial, social and academic growth of our youngest staff,” DLI Commissioner Nicole Blissenbach stated in an announcement. “When little one labor legal guidelines are violated, the perfect pursuits of our kids are being tossed to the wayside to advance the pursuits of an employer.”

The investigation is continuous. The labor division, which is working with Minnesota Legal professional Basic Keith Ellison, can subject injunctions, penalties and felony referrals in opposition to firms when warranted.

Minnesota legislation prohibits employers from hiring minors to work in hazardous circumstances. Employers are also prohibited from requiring staff underneath the age of 16 to work after 9 p.m., greater than eight hours a day, or greater than 40 hours per week.

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