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Three California Poultry Processors Face Preliminary Injunction for Child Labor, Wage Violations

Oct. 31, 2023
U.S. Dept. of Labor obtains injunction against Los Angeles-area poultry companies in latest child labor crackdown.

The U.S. Dept. of Labor (DOL) obtained a preliminary injunction against three poultry processing companies in California alleging violation of child labor laws, failure to pay overtime, threats and retaliation against workers, obstruction of a federal investigation and shipment of “hot” goods, according to a release from the DOL.

A DOL investigation found rampant child labor and wage violations at The Exclusive Poultry Inc., Valtierra Poultry LLC and Meza Poultry LLC — operated under a single enterprise in La Puente and City of Industry, Calif., by Tony Elvis Bran, Karen Rios, Juan Valtierra, Javier Meza and Jacqueline Garcia.

It was determined that the group directed employees under the age of 18 to use sharp knives to debone and cut poultry and employed children to work longer and at times not permitted by law, the DOL said. Additionally, it was found that minors were directed to work in prohibited facilities, and the group failed to pay overtime wages.

The employers allegedly interfered with the investigation by threatening and retaliating against employees who raised concerns with investigators. Poultry goods produced in violation of these laws thus became “hot” goods that the employers shipped illegally.

The court injunction forbids Bran, his companies and Rios, Valtierra, Meza and Garcia from violating child labor regulations, harassing and threatening labor investigators or employees, and taking retaliatory actions such as terminating employees or reducing their work hours.

The processors also are unable to ship any products processed in the last 30 days in the plants in which these violations occurred.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.

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