Keiler, Wis.-based Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI) paid $1.5 million in civil penalties this week after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) found more than 100 children illegally working for the food safety sanitation services provider.
The DOL discovered at least 102 children 13 to 17 years old working in 13 meat-processing facilities in eight states. Some worked overnight shifts, causing them to fall asleep in school or miss school entirely. The children were tasked with handling hazardous sanitation chemicals and cleaning equipment including back saws, brisket saws and head splitters on their shifts.
PSSI was assessed a fine of $15,138 for each minor employed in violation of child labor laws, which is the maximum civil money penalty allowed by federal law.
At least three of the minors reportedly suffered injuries while on the job with PSSI. As reported in November, the youths suffered caustic chemical burns and other injuries, according to a Justice Department statement. U.S. District Court Judge John M. Gerrard, at that time issued a temporary restraining order on Nov. 10, forbidding the company and its employees from committing child labor violations.
On Dec. 6, 2022, the U.S. District Court of Nebraska entered a consent order and judgment, in which the employer agreed to comply with child labor provisions nationwide, ensure future compliance and hire an outside compliance specialist.