• May 29, 2024

Dept. of Labor Fines Tennessee Company For Hiring Migrant Children To Do Dangerous Jobsmachinery’

“Division investigators began its probe months ago but obtained clear evidence of the unlawful conduct on Jan. 23, 2024, when they returned to the Tuff Torq facility and observed a child operating a power-driven hoisting apparatus, an occupation prohibited for workers under the age of 18,” the department’s press release read. “As a result, the department objected to the shipment of goods from the Morristown facility, citing the Fair Labor Standards Act’s ‘hot goods’ provision, which prevents employers from shipping goods produced by oppressive child labor.”

Tuff Torq was ordered to pay a $296,951 civil penalty and “set aside $1.5 million as disgorgement of 30 days’ profits related to its use of child labor.”

“The proceeds paid by Tuff Torq will be used for the benefit of the children employed illegally,” the DOL stated.

In addition to paying the civil fine, the manufacturer has committed to conducting staff training, implementing a child labor tip line, allowing for unannounced and warrantless searches for a period of three years, and refraining from engaging staffing agencies with child labor infractions.

Wage and Hour Division administrator Jessica Looman declared, “Even one child working in a dangerous environment is too many.”

“Over the past year, we have seen an alarming increase in child labor violations, and these violations put children in harm’s way. With this agreement, we are ensuring Tuff Torq takes immediate and significant steps to stop the illegal employment of children. When employers fail to meet their obligations, we will act swiftly to hold them accountable and protect children,” she stated.

Seema Nanda, the Solicitor of Labor, is confident that the Department of Labor’s agreement with Tuff Torq will ensure accountability for the manufacturer and deter future instances of child labor violations.

“This agreement puts in practice what we have long been saying. The department will not tolerate companies profiting on the backs of children employed unlawfully in dangerous occupations. Tuff Torq has agreed to disgorge profits, which will go to the benefit of the children. This sends a clear message: putting children in harm’s way in the workplace is not only illegal, but also comes with significant financial consequences,” Nanda said.

According to NBC News, Ryan Pott, the legal representative for Tuff Torq, clarified that the individuals found working illegally at the facility were temporary employees and not directly hired by the company. These workers allegedly provided fake identification to a third-party staffing agency. Pott stated that Tuff Torq is in the process of discontinuing its partnership with the staffing agency.

“Tuff Torq is dedicated to ensuring that their products and services are produced under ethical conditions, with a strong emphasis on fair labor practices, and Tuff Torq is further strengthening our relevant training and compliance programs,” Pott told NBC News. “We are also actively engaging with our suppliers to reinforce our expectations regarding ethical labor practices and collaborate with them on implementing our updated policies.”

In fiscal year 2023, the Department of Labor  investigated 955 cases of child labor violations, which affected 5,792 children.

Source

The Daily Allegiant