One of the nation’s biggest meat packing companies, Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI), was forced to pay more than $1.5 million in civil penalties after it was discovered they illegally employed more than 100 underage workers in dangerous occupations. Their duties often involved cleaning dangerous tools and working with dangerous chemicals. The National Labor Relations Board said that the company’s child labor violations stretched across eight states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Texas.
Who is PSSI?
Packers Sanitation Services Inc. LTD (PSSI) is one of America’s largest meat packing companies, with an estimated annual revenue of $2.73 billion. It employs more than 17,000 people across multiple states, and has been a subsidiary of the Blackstone Group since 2018. In addition to meat packing, the company also offers contract cleaning and food sanitation services for other businesses.
What Did They Do?
The company was fined more than $1.5 million after it was discovered that several of their meat packing plants were employing children in dangerous occupations, ranging in ages from 13 to 17. These children were often used to clean dangerous equipment used in meat packing, including back saws, brisket saws and head splitters. At least three of these children were injured as a result of being forced to perform these dangerous jobs.
Why Was This Illegal?
Under federal law, workers under the age of 17 are heavily restricted in terms of what duties they can perform and how long they can perform them. Of particular note, underage workers are not supposed to perform any job that is particularly dangerous or which involves the use of dangerous equipment or chemicals, and there are limits on how long they can work per day and per week. By forcing its underage workers to perform these duties, the company violated child labor laws.
What Should You Do?
PSSI is, unfortunately, not as much of an outlier as it would seem. Other companies, such as Hyundai and Crumbl Cookies, have recently been found to have potentially violated child labor laws in a similar manner. That is why, if you witness an underage worker performing dangerous jobs, or otherwise being exploited by your employer, you should report it to the state or federal Department of Labor. You may also want to speak to a lawyer who can assist you in the event of retaliation or other potential issues caused by your employer.
Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 41 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. His new book, “Fired!: Protect Your Rights & FIGHT BACK If You’re Terminated, Laid Off, Downsized, Restructured, Forced to Resign or Quit,” is available in hardback, and contains valuable advice on dealing with employment and labor law issues. To purchase the book, feel free to contact Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or visit the website at legalstratpub.com. To inquire about a legal matter, please feel free to contact attorney Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.