Search warrants led to accusations of illegal child labor, company fights back
We’re learning more about accusations that a cleaning company put kids to work in dangerous graveyard shifts at one Nebraska meatpacking plant and two others in Minnesota.
Recently unsealed search warrants allowed federal safety investigators inside the Nebraska and Minnesota offices of Packers Sanitation Services, along with access inside the JBS slaughterhouses in Grand Island and Worthington, Minnesota.
The warrants also opened the doors of PSSI offices in Missouri and Wisconsin, along with a Missouri packing plant.
Following the searches the Labor Department filed a federal lawsuit, accusing the cleaning firm of putting a 13-year-old and a reported 30 other children between the ages of 13 and 17 to work cleaning “power-driven machines” including “bone-cutting saws.”
In the meantime, PSSI has been ordered to immediately stop “employing oppressive child labor” pending a hearing in U.S. District Court in Lincoln eight days from now.
According to federal records, PSSI has yet to respond to the lawsuit.
Contacted by News Channel Nebraska the company issued the following statement:
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.
PSSI has industry-leading, best-in-class procedures to confirm the identities of its employees -- including mandatory use of the Government's E-verify system for new hires, as well as extensive training, document verification, biometrics, and multiple layers of audits. While rogue individuals could of course seek to engage in fraud or identity theft, we are confident in our company's strict compliance policies and will defend ourselves vigorously against these claims.
We are also surprised the DOL has taken this action given PSSI’s Corporate office has been cooperating with their inquiry, producing extensive documents and responses. ?PSSI also worked with the DOL recently and successfully completed multiple audits with the agency that found no ?issues. ?PSSI will continue to cooperate with the DOL and will continue to enforce its absolute prohibition against employing anyone under the age of 18.