Matt Popovich
"Snowy Labor Department Sign"

L.A.-Area Meat Processor, Staffing Agency Must Pay Nearly $400,000 for Child Labor Violations

June 26, 2024
A&J Meats’ owner is the daughter of the operator of three poultry processing companies found in violation of child labor laws in October 2023.

City of Industry, Calif.-based A&J Meats, and a Downey, Calif., staffing agency will need to surrender more than $327,000 in profits illegally made off sales of products associated with child labor, according to an announcement from the U.S. Dept. of Labor (DOL). The consent judgment obtained by the DOL from a federal court also requires the companies to pay $62,516 in penalties.

The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division determined that A&J Meats and The Right Hire “jointly employed and endangered children as young as 15,” having them use sharp knives, allowing them to work inside freezers and coolers, and scheduling them to work at times not permitted by law. The DOL has ordered that the companies pay the $327,484 profited from the sales of goods produced in associated with child labor.

Children were found working more than three hours a day on school days, past 7 p.m. and more than 18 hours a week while school was in session.

A&J Meats, its owner Priscilla Helen Castillo, and The Right Hire are forbidden from violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the future, cannot trade goods connected to the child labor, must provide annual FLSA training for at least four years, and must submit to independent, third-party monitoring for three years.

Castillo is the daughter of Tony Bran, who was also found illegally employing children at three poultry processing companies that he operates in the region.

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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