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A Wisconsin food safety sanitation company has paid $1.5 million in civil penalties after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found it illegally employed 102 children in hazardous jobs.
The DOL said Friday that Kieler, Wisconsin-based Packers Sanitation Services Inc. Ltd. had children ages 13 to 17 working in hazardous conditions during overnight shifts at 13 meat processing facilities in eight states.
The agency said at least three children who were employed by the company suffered injuries.
The minors worked with hazardous chemicals and were ordered to clean dangerous meat-processing equipment such as back saws, brisket saws and head splitters.
The company paid the civil penalties Thursday, the DOL said.
The department called the child labor violations “systematic” and constituted a “corporatewide failure” by the company.
The federal investigation began in August 2022 and a federal complaint was filed in November.
The U.S. District Court of Nebraska entered a consent order and judgment in early December and the company agreed to take steps to comply with child labor laws at its operations across the country.
The DOL said that when government officials arrived with warrants following the investigation, adults on location attempted to derail efforts to look into the company’s employment practices.