Packers Sanitation Services, Inc. (PSSI), a leading sanitation contractor that services hundreds of the country’s food processing facilities, is under federal investigation for illegally using child labor to fulfill contracts in at least three slaughterhouses in Minnesota and Nebraska.
The kids allegedly employed by the company were put to work on the graveyard shift, leaving many too exhausted to attend school. According to federal officials, several were also injured due to the hazards they faced on the job.
As a leading Child Injury Lawyer, Jeffrey Killino has committed his life to fighting for the rights of abused, neglected, and exploited children. If PSSI’s allegedly illegal hiring practices victimized your child, please call our law firm toll-free at 877-875-2927 to learn how our attorneys can help your family obtain the justice you deserve.
PSSI Put 31 Kids to Work at JBS and Turkey Valley Meat Packing Plants
The Fair Labor Standards Act forbids “oppressive child labor” and prohibits companies from hiring minors to work in any kind of hazardous employment. Federal regulations related to the use of child labor also designate many of the jobs typically performed in slaughterhouses and meatpacking facilities as too dangerous for kids.
Yet according to papers filed by the U.S. Department of Labor earlier this month in Nebraska Federal Court, PSSI was allegedly employing at least 31 children between the ages of 13 and 17 at two JBS meat packing plants in Grand Island, Nebraska, and Worthington, Minnesota, as well as a Turkey Valley Farms facility in Marshall, Minnesota.
On Thursday, November 17th, the Court partly granted the Labor Department’s request for an injunction, ordering PSSI to “immediately cease and refrain from employing oppressive child labor. The Court has scheduled a hearing for November 23rd to determine if the injunction should be extended, modified, or lifted.
The Labor Department’s Investigation Into PSSI
The federal investigation into PSSI began in August after the Labor Department received a tip from law enforcement that the company might be employing children.
Federal officials proceeded to execute search warrants on the three plants, as well as PSSI’s local offices in Grand Island and Worthington, where the company recruits workers. In addition to subpoenaing school records and interviewing confidential sources, including kids employed at the plants, investigators also conducted surveillance. At that time, they allegedly saw minors entering the facilities to work the night shift.
One 14-year-old interviewed by the Department of Labor reported that shifts typically began at 11:00 p.m. and ended at 5:00 a.m., with some kids working as many as six and seven days a week. A middle schooler said they were written up for falling asleep in class, and another told investigators he recently dropped out of high school because he was “working and was tired.”
The kids were allegedly tasked with cleaning bone saws, grinding equipment, and other powered machinery on the facility’s killing room floors, work that typically required them to use caustic substances. At least three underage workers are known to have suffered chemical burns, the filing said.
PSSI Allegedly Interfered with Child Labor Investigation
PSSI provides contract sanitation services, chemical innovations, pest prevention, and other solutions for about 700 food processing facilities nationwide and employs approximately 17,000 workers. Initial evidence obtained as part of the Department of Labor’s ongoing child labor investigation indicates the company may also employ more kids under similar conditions at 400 other sites across the country.
The filing further alleges that PSSI interfered with the federal investigation by intimidating minor workers to stop them from cooperating with officials. The company is also accused of deleting and manipulating employment files.
“Federal laws were established decades ago to prevent employers from profiting by putting children in harm’s way,” said Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Michael Lazzeri in Chicago. “Taking advantage of children, exposing them to workplace dangers – and interfering with a federal investigation – demonstrates Packers Sanitation Services Inc.’s flagrant disregard for the law and for the well-being of young workers.”
In a statement to NBC News, a company spokesperson denied any wrongdoing and insisted that PSSI “has an absolute company-wide prohibition against the employment of anyone under the age of 18 and zero tolerance for any violation of that policy —period.”
Contact an Experienced Child Injury Lawyer
Child Injury Lawyer Jeff Killino has earned national recognition for his aggressive pursuit of justice on behalf of kids and their families. While no amount of compensation can make up for the harm inflicted on the children allegedly exploited by PSSI, taking legal action may be the only way to hold this company accountable and discourage other firms from engaging in similar conduct.
If PSSI illegally hired your minor son or daughter to work at a slaughterhouse or meatpacking facility, our child injury attorneys are ready to help your family find some semblance of justice. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 1-877-875- 2927.