Busted! Child labor scandal again at Alabama Hyundai plant

Busted! Child labor scandal again at Alabama Hyundai plant

Busted! Child labor scandal again at Alabama Hyundai plant

After a 13-year-old girl was found illegally working on an assembly line in Alabama, South Korean auto giant Hyundai Motor Co. is facing a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) lawsuit as reported by CBS News. But by holding Hyundai accountable, the case may change the state of play. It marks the first time the Labor Department has sued a major company for allegedly violating child labor law through their subcontractors and partners. At a time when the U.S. is seeing both an increase in child labor violations and a huge push across some states to roll back child labor protections, the case could make multinational manufacturing giants take notice.

Child labor violations are not new

Child labor violations in the U.S. are sadly not a new story. Accounts of exploitation and fatal injuries have been reported over the last few years from Wisconsin to Virginia and Mississippi to Minnesota. In fiscal year 2023 alone The Labor Department investigated 955 cases of child labor violations involving 5,792 kids nationwide, including 502 employed in violation of hazardous occupation standards. In this most recent case, federal investigators found a 13-year-old girl was working up to 50 to 60 hours a week on an assembly line in Luverne, Alabama, operating machines that turned sheet metal into auto body parts.

Jessica Looman, a DOL’s wage and hour division administrator, said in a statement

“A 13-year-old working on an assembly line in the United States of America shocks the conscience.”

The facility the 13-year-old was working at was subcontracted to provide parts to Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama. The legal document stated that “instead of attending middle school, she worked on an assembly line making parts,” for six to seven months. And sadly, this is not Hyundai’s first rodeo. In 2022, Reuters reported that children as young as 12 were working for a Hyundai subsidiary and other parts suppliers for the company in Alabama. The recent suit claims that in addition to the 13-year-old girl, two other children were also employed at the plant.

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