Company ups its fight against 'oppressive' child labor accusations
A cleaning company accused of putting kids to work in dangerous graveyard shifts at one Nebraska meatpacking plant and two others in Minnesota is upping its insistence that it has done nothing wrong.
At the same time a federal court hearing in the case has been rescheduled.
According to court records, search warrants allowed federal safety investigators inside the Nebraska and Minnesota offices of Packers Sanitation Services Incorporated, along with access inside the JBS slaughterhouses in Grand Island and Worthington, Minnesota.
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.”
Earlier this month a federal judge granted the U.S. Labor Department a temporary restraining order prohibiting the company from “employing oppressive child labor.”
A hearing on a potentially longer lasting temporary restraining order against PSSI is set for December 7 in Lincoln.
In the meantime new court records find the company arguing that the Labor Department has “no means of ascertaining the identities” of the alleged underage workers” while DOL says the names of the children came from PSSI’s own records.
The company has also 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.