US accuses Hyundai, suppliers of using child labor

The Department of Labor has filed a complaint accusing a Hyundai factory and two Alabama companies of what the government says is the illegal employment of children.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division conducted an investigation and found that a 13-year-old worked between 50 hours and 60 hours a week on an assembly line operating machinery that turned sheet metal into auto parts.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, is seeking to have a federal judge prevent the companies from using child labor and give up profits linked to the alleged practice.

The defendants in the case are Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama LLC, SMART Alabama LLC, and Best Practice Service LLC.

“In the complaint, the department alleged that all three companies jointly employed the child,” the Labor Department said in a release.

The department said the companies “willfully and repeatedly” violated child labor provisions from July 2021 through February 2022.

“The Department of Labor’s complaint seeks to hold all three employers accountable in the supply chain,” U.S. Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda said. “Companies cannot escape liability by blaming suppliers of staffing companies for child labor violations when they are in fact also employers themselves.”

The department’s Wage and Hour Division administrator, Jessica Looman, said a 13-year-old working on an assembly line in the U.S. “shocks the conscience.”

The Hill has reached out to Hyundai for comment.

The Associated Press reported the company said it is unfair to be held accountable for the practices of its suppliers.

“We are reviewing the new lawsuit and intend to vigorously defend the company,” the statement said.

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