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Minnesota Children Allegedly Hired Illegally to Work Overnight at Meat Processing Plant


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(Photo credit: U.S. Department of Labor)

MINNESOTA- The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) has filed a lawsuit against Tony Downs Foods Company for allegedly hiring minors to work hazardous jobs at a meat processing facility in Madelia, Minnesota. The investigation found at least 8 minors, aged 14 to 17 years old, working at the facility. The DLI also identified multiple child labor violations involving former employees between January 2021-23.


The lawsuit requests an injunction and temporary restraining order against the company while the investigation continues. The DLI alleges that children were working overnight shifts in hazardous conditions, operating large machines such as meat grinders, ovens, and forklifts, resulting in injuries. The children were working under assumed names and were not native English speakers, according to the investigation. The DLI contacted school districts in the area and found that the children were at risk of poor academic performance and dropping out of school.

The Minnesota Child Labor Standards Act prohibits employers from employing minors in hazardous occupations and restricts minors under 16 from working after 9 p.m., more than eight hours a day, or more than 40 hours a week. The DLI requests the court to impose an injunction and temporary restraining order against Tony Downs Foods from employing children and violating the Child Labor Standards Acts, and to take necessary steps to prevent further violations. Tony Downs Foods has cooperated fully with the investigation and is committed to complying with the law. The company intends to take action to prevent underage workers from circumventing the hiring process and verification requirements.

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