The Alabama Department of Labor announced two companies that manufacture parts for carmakers Kia and Hyundai had violated child labor laws.
The DOL collected $35,000 in civil monetary penalties from SL Alabama, LLC, and JK USA. Each company paid $17,800.
SL Alabama makes headlights and mirrors for Hyundai. An investigation revealed it employed a 13-year-old, and two 15-year-olds, who “operated plastic bonding machines in a prohibited area,” per WZDX Huntsville. “Two other 16-year-old employees were also working without appropriate record keeping on premises.”
Temporary employment agency JK USA, which works with automotive suppliers, sent the minors to SL Alabama. State and federal investigators ultimately required the company to supply documents on the underage workers. Neither company has any Child Labor Certificates and none of the minors have been cleared through the online worker eligibility checker E-Verify.
“A Sept. 29 consent judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama permanently enjoined SL Alabama from violating child labor laws and from shipping any goods produced within 30 days of a child labor violation,” reports Alabama.com.
The company must also undergo child labor training every quarter for the next three years and sanction anyone who perpetrated the violations.
According to the ADOL, a breakdown of the fines for each company includes: “three violations of employing a minor under the age of 16 in a manufacturing facility” at $5,000 per violation, “two violations of employing a minors aged 14 or 15 in a prohibited environment” at $300 per violation, “two violations of working minors under the age of 16 outside of permissible hours” at $300 per violation, ”one violation of failing to obtain the proper Class 1 Child Labor Certificate permit” at $50 per violation, ”one violation of failing to obtain the proper Class 2 Child Labor Certificate permit” at $50 per violation, and “five violations of failing to obtain proper identification documents” at $300 per violation.
“This practice of providing and employing underage and undocumented workers is appalling,” said DOL Secretary Fitzgerald Washington in a statement. “Employee safety, especially the safety of children, is a top priority. These businesses violated the law and put these children at risk, and it will not be tolerated in Alabama.”
“We will vigorously investigate any business or industry suspected to be participating in this illegal activity,” Washington added. “We will continue to work with our federal partners, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Homeland Security, and our state Attorney General’s office to assist in any further investigations or potential criminal prosecutions.”
Hyundai reportedly ended its partnership with SL Alabama on Oct. 11, according to The Kansas City Star.