Memphis, Tenn.-based Monogram Foods has agreed to comply nationwide with federal child labor laws and take significant steps to ensure compliance in the future after a U.S. Dept. of Labor investigation found at least two teenagers operating meat-processing equipment in the company’s Monogram Meat Snacks plant in Chandler, Minn.
On July 6, Monogram Food Solutions LLC agreed to comply with the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota, to include the hiring of an external compliance specialist within 90 days. Monogram also agreed to pay $30,276 in civil money penalties for the child labor violations in Chandler, according to a release from the DOL.
Monogram Foods released a statement in response, saying in part, "Our company does not want, and has a zero-tolerance policy for, ineligible underage labor and we have fully cooperated with this process. We take our legal obligations and our longstanding commitment to compliance very seriously, and immediately terminated the two ineligible workers who appear to have used falsified documentation relating to their identity or age in the hiring process."
In addition, Monogram stated it has voluntarily made significant and immediate companywide changes to our existing policies and procedures to prevent this from occurring in the future.
The DOL investigation was opened on March 28, 2023, and after the investigation was completed, the Wage and Hour Division issued an “Objection to Shipment letter” that cited the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “hot goods” provision, which prevents employers from shipping goods produced illegally by child labor, according to the release. On April 24, the company agreed to the request and withheld shipment as compliance discussions continued.
After the July 6 agreement, the DOL lifted its objection and the company paid the civil penalties.
The findings at Monogram are the latest to come to light as the DOL has stepped up its efforts to combat child labor, most evident in the investigation and subsequent discovery of approximately 100 children working for a contract sanitation company that serviced numerous meat-processing plants earlier this year. Since 2018, the DOL said it has seen a 69 percent increase in illegal employment of children.
Monogram Meat Snacks is a subsidiary of Monogram Food Solutions LLC, which manufactures meat snacks, appetizers, assembled sandwiches, baked goods and other convenience products for private label sale in Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.