The Alabama Department of Labor on Tuesday levied child labor violations and collected more than $35,000 in penalties from SL Alabama LLC and JK USA for the use of minors — some as young as 13 — to produce automotive parts for Hyundai in violation of Alabama’s Child Labor Law.
SL Alabama, a supplier of headlights and mirrors for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing in Alexander City, and JK USA, a temporary employment agency located in Opelika that provided workers to the SL Alabama plant, were both cited with employing minors, failure to obtain a proper Class 1 & 2 Child Labor Certificate permit, and failing to obtain proper identification documents, according to the ADOL.
The ADOL said in a statement on Tuesday that following a complaint and investigation by the department’s child labor inspectors, alongside representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, the department determined that SL Alabama had employed “three minors, aged 13, 15, and 15” who were operating a plastic bonding machine “in a prohibited occupation and location”.
Each of the three minors who worked at the facility was sent by JK USA, with both companies failing to obtain the required Child Labor Certificate. In addition, JK USA did not provide documentation regarding the three minors sent to SL Alabama “until required to do so by state and federal investigators,” according to the ADOL.
“This practice of providing and employing underage and undocumented workers is appalling,” said Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington in a statement released on Tuesday. “Employee safety, especially the safety of children, is a top priority. These businesses violated the law and put these children at risk, and it will not be tolerated in Alabama.”
Washington added that the state department of labor will continue to work with federal officials and the Alabama Attorney General’s office “to assist in any further investigations or potential criminal prosecutions.”
SL Alabama is the second Hyundai supplier over the last year to have been accused of violating the state’s child labor laws and using minors for factory work. In Crenshaw County, the U.S Department of Labor is investigating the alleged use of child labor by SMART Alabama LLC, a metal stamping plant owned by Hyundai that operates in Luverne. According to Reuters, the plant has employed as many as 50 underage workers.