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Child Labor And Rogue Managers: Oversight For Protecting Children

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) filed a citation in court against a sanitation service provider for child labor law violations, saying the employer hired children to work graveyard shifts cleaning slaughterhouses.

The employer provides cleaning services to slaughterhouses and food processing plants across the country. The DOL began its investigation after receiving a tip from law enforcement. Investigators initially focused on three facilities in Nebraska and Minnesota. The DOL also searched the local offices of the sanitation service provider.

Through documentation and interviews, the DOL found evidence to show that minors, as young as 13, worked as cleaners at the processing plants on "graveyard" shifts. A typical shift was 11:00 p.m. until 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., some working up to five or six days a week. The complaint also says at least three minors suffered chemical burns.

The employer insists its policy does not allow employment for anyone under 18 years of age. Although they do acknowledge "rouge" managers may seek to undermine company policy, they remain "confident" in the effectiveness of their hiring and training policies. Julianne McShane "Food sanitation company accused of emptying at least 31 children on graveyard shifts in slaughterhouses" www.nbcnews.com (Nov. 11, 2022).


Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), it is illegal for individuals under the age of 18 to work in a hazardous occupation. Typically these include excavation, mining, manufacturing explosives, operating heavy machinery, and other jobs whose primary work activity utilizes dangerous equipment or materials. In addition, the law restricts work hours for minors under the age of 16.

In the above matter, blame was placed on a “rogue manager”. Take steps to mitigate individual actions that put children at risk. In this situation, it was child labor at a manufacturer, but it could also include child sexual abuse at a summer camp or sexual exploitation by an educator.

No matter the situation, organizations must take steps to protect children.

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