Labor Department cites meatpacking cleaning company for 'oppressive child labor' practices

The company is accused of child labor violations in Virginia and Iowa.

February 22, 2024, 6:23 PM

The Department of Labor has issued an injunction and temporary restraining order against a meatpacking industry cleaning and sanitation company for allegedly "continuing to engage in oppressive child labor" in Virginia and Iowa.

The nationwide restraining order and injunction was filed on Wednesday against the Tennessee-based company Fayette Janitorial Service LLC, whose workers clean and sanitize meat processing facilities and dry food processing plants.

The move follows an investigation by the Labor Department that discovered children were employed to clean and sanitize spaces and equipment during overnight shifts in the two states.

According to the filing, children as young as 13 were used to clean dangerous slaughterhouse equipment. At least one 14-year-old working at a Virginia facility suffered severe injuries on the job.

"The employment of children in hazardous occupations is an egregious violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act that should never occur," said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda in a statement. "The Department of Labor continues to use every available legal resource to protect workers and end child labor violations. We are working diligently with other federal agencies to combat child labor exploitation nationwide."

PHOTO: In this Feb. 4, 2022, file photo, the office building of the U.S. Department of Labor is shown in Washington D.C.
In this Feb. 4, 2022, file photo, the office building of the U.S. Department of Labor is shown in Washington D.C.
Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images, FILE

A spokesperson for Fayette Janitorial Service said the company has been fully cooperating and complying with the probe.

"Fayette has made significant procedural improvements and enhancements over the past two years to bolster our hiring protocols, including: a biometric technology to assist in employee processes, the hiring of a new CEO, and adding an additional third-party legal representation to aid in the vetting of employees," the spokesperson said.

"Fayette Janitorial is committed to always providing a lawful, ethical employment, as well as a safe and secure work environment," said the spokesperson.