Child Labor Violations at Hyundai Supplier in Alabama: US Labor Department Alleges in Lawsuit

Child Labor Violations at Hyundai Supplier in Alabama: US Labor Department Alleges in Lawsuit

The U.S. Department of Labor is suing Hyundai Motor Co., a car parts plant, and a staffing firm because they found a 13-year-old girl working on an Alabama assembly line without permission.

The agency went to U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on Thursday and filed a complaint. It wants Hyundai, SMART Alabama (an auto parts company), and Best Practice Service (a staffing service) to give up any profits they made from using child labor. The Labor Department said in the lawsuit that all three companies worked together to hire the child.

Federal investigators found a 13-year-old girl working up to 60 hours a week on a SMART assembly line in Luverne, Alabama. The girl was running machines that took sheet metal and turned it into car body parts, according to the Labor Department. The child worked at the plant for six to seven months. It makes parts for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama. “Instead of attending middle school, she worked on an assembly line making parts,” the court document said.

“A 13-year-old working on an assembly line in the United States of America shocks the conscience,” said Jessica Looman, who runs the DOL’s wage and hour section.

The Korean car company is responsible for violations of child labor at SMART Alabama, one of its branches, from July 11, 2021, to February 1, 2022. The child was sent to work at the seller of component parts by Best Practice, the report said.

The complaint says that SMART told the staffing company that “two additional employees were not welcome back at the facility due to their appearance and other physical characteristics, which suggested they were also underage.”

Hyundai said in a statement that it follows U.S. labor law and was upset that the Labor Department had made a complaint.

“The use of child labor, and breach of any labor law, is not consistent with the standards and values we hold ourselves to as a company,” Hyundai wrote in a statement. “It took us many months of hard work to fully investigate this problem, and we took immediate and extensive steps to fix it.” We gave the U.S. Department of Labor all of this information to try to solve the problem, even though it was clear that there was no legal basis to hold them responsible in this case.

Hyundai said that its suppliers stopped working with the staffing agencies named in the report right away. The company also did a review of its U.S. supplier network and put in place stricter workplace standards. The company also said that its suppliers in Alabama will have to have their businesses audited by a third party to make sure they follow labor rules.

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