Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Department of Labor claims Mar-Jac Poultry of Alabama used oppressive child labor

The Department of Labor says children worked “on the kill floor deboning poultry and cutting carcasses” in the Jasper factory.

poultry processing meat food industry
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

On May 1, the Department of Labor searched Mar-Jac Poultry of Alabama, a poultry processing plant based in Jasper, on the suspicion that the company had been illegally employing children.

Previously, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found in January that inaction by Mar-Jac had directly led” to the death of 16-year-old Duvan Pérez at the company’s Hattiesburg, Mississippi, plant. The company has disputed this claim.

In a complaint filed with a United States District Court soon after the search, the Department of Labor stated that children were in fact “working on the kill floor deboning poultry and cutting carcasses” and “had been working at the facility for months.” 

On May 15, the Department of Labor submitted as evidence photographs of five Mar-Jac employees and IDs, birth certificates, and medical records to prove that the five employees were all minors.

In a filed affidavit, Harvey Michael Casto, Mar-Jac’s complex manager, stated that the workers “had produced documentation for the I-9 forms that show they were 20 to 23 years old” and that the company does “question applicants who appear young for their age.”

In Mar-Jac’s brief, the company’s lawyers also disputed the Department of Labor’s characterization of the minors’ jobs, stating that “none of these employees worked on the killing floor.”

The Department of Labor has requested the court order Mar-Jac to “disgorge all ill-gotten profits earned from any sale of goods produced in an establishment where it employed oppressive child labor.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The complaint also accuses Mar-Jac of continuing to sell products from the processing facility “over [the Department of Labor’s] objection.” Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, companies are forbidden from shipping “any goods produced in an establishment” which has utilized oppressive child labor in the last thirty days.

While Mar-Jac agreed not to ship any goods produced in the shift the Department of Labor searched the plant during, it refused to cease shipping goods for the next 30 days. Mar-Jac estimated closing the plant for 30 days would cost $63 million and require laying off 1,007 employees.

The FLSA states that in order for hiring a 16- or 17-year-old to be oppressive child labor, the occupation must be “particularly hazardous.” By claiming no children worked on the killing floor, or with power-driven tools, Mar-Jac is attempting to argue the minor workers’ occupations did not qualify as hazardous under the Department of Labor’s guidelines.

In a statement to ABC News, Mar-Jac stated that the company “expects to prevail in this matter.”

Chance Phillips is a reporting intern at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

More from APR


Alongside acting Secretary of Labor Su, Birmingham Mayor Woodfin announced his support for the Department of Labor’s Good Jobs Principles.


The acting secretary of labor visited the Anniston New Flyer plant, where workers unionized and won significant raises this year.


The Department of Labor is seeking all profits Hyundai and other companies made by hiring children in an Alabama factory.

Featured Opinion

Medicaid expansion might not be a bipartisan issue, but we still have a healthily bipartisan pro-child labor caucus in Montgomery.