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Food manufacturer commits to national compliance after ‘hot goods’ child labor investigation

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Dive Brief:

  • Monogram Food Solutions, a national food manufacturer, on July 6 agreed to a $30,276 settlement after a U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation found that Monogram Meat Snacks in Chandler, Minn., allegedly allowed at least two 16- and 17-year-olds to operate meat processing equipment in violation of federal child labor hazardous laws, according to a DOL news release.
  • Monogram Food Solutions agreed to fully comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor provisions at all of its production facilities and warehouses and to hire an independent compliance specialist within 90 days, the DOL said. 
  • Under the “hot goods” provision of the FLSA, employers are prohibited from shipping products made illegally by child labor. The DOL sent the company an “Objection to Shipment letter” after its March 28 investigation, and Monogram Food Solutions agreed on April 24 to start withholding shipments while it worked with the department on compliance. The DOL lifted its objection to shipment after the July 6 consent order was executed and the fines tied to it paid.

Dive Insight:

The investigation into Monogram is part of a DOL on child labor violations. In March, the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services agreed to work together to address child labor exploitation. Since 2018, the DOL has recorded a 69% increase in illegal child labor activity, according to the release. 

“As we made clear earlier this year, the Department of Labor and the Biden-Harris administration are committed to combating the increase we have seen in child labor violations,” Principal Deputy Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman said in a statement. Employers are responsible for training managers, hiring specialists and front-line supervisors to recognize potential child labor violations and to take all appropriate actions to verify that they are not employing children and other young people illegally, she continued

The DOL continues to investigate companies it suspects are in violation of allowable working hours for youth, as well as those that let underage workers perform hazardous duties. 

For example, in May, SDI of Neil LLC, the owner and operator of six Sonic Drive-In locations in Nevada, paid $71,182 after DOL’s Wage and Hour Division said SDI and its owners violated more than 170 child labor provisions of the FLSA. The DOL alleged the company allowed young teens to work impermissible hours and to operate manual deep fryers, which is considered a hazardous task for workers under 16.

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