Uncategorized /

Labor Department Accuses Hyundai and Manufacturer of Illegally Employing Children

At least one 13-year-old worked at an auto parts plant for 50 to 60 hours a week

Labor Department Accuses Hyundai and Manufacturer of Illegally Employing Children

The United States Department of Labor has filed a complaint against Hyundai and two of its suppliers in Alabama for allegedly employing children.

The federal agency filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama requesting the companies give up all profits generated by child labor.

“The Department of Labor’s complaint seeks to hold all three employers accountable in the supply chain,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda in a press release. “Companies cannot escape liability by blaming suppliers or staffing companies for child labor violations when they are in fact also employers themselves.”

According to an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, a 13-year-old worked on an assembly line turning sheet metal into car parts for 50 to 60 hours a week for a period of six to seven months. 

The defendants include Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama LLC, SMART Alabama LLC and Best Practice Service, LLC. Reportedly, Best Practices sent the minor to SMART Alabama which creates parts for Hyundai.

According to court documents, the DOL believes Best Practice Service was aware the minor – identified as “EC” – was underage at the time of employment. The agency believes other minors were also employed by the company during the same period.

“After it was discovered that EC was employed at the facility in Luverne, SMART informed BPS 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,” the federal agency wrote in its complaint. 

The Department of Labor says Hyundai “indirectly controlled and supervised the minor employee(s); retained the right to modify the terms and conditions of their employment; and significantly invested in equipment and facilities necessary to their work.”

“As a result of the forgoing illegal conduct, Defendants unfairly profited by their use of oppressive child labor,” argued the Labor Department. “Consumers throughout the United States unknowingly purchased automobiles that were manufactured with oppressive child labor. Defendants profited by these sales, and financial transactions related to the same, and continue to retain those profits today.”

The department added:

Defendants also subjected other law-abiding employers to unfair competition by their use of oppressive child labor. Vulnerable employees, such as children, work for less money, they are less likely to complain about working conditions, less likely to organize, and they are less likely to assert rights in the workplace. Defendants’ exploitation here prejudiced other law-abiding employers and gave Defendants an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

Hyundai said in a statement that it should not be held accountable for the actions of its parts suppliers. The company says it will cooperate with the Department of Labor.

“We are reviewing the new lawsuit and intend to vigorously defend the company,” the company said, per Time.

Four Alabama companies that supplied parts to Hyundai and Kia were found to employ minors in 2022.

*For corrections please email [email protected]*