US DOL Seeks to Stop Child Labor Violations
Department finds 31 children performing hazardous jobs and working overnight shifts.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced that it has asked a federal court to issue a nationwide temporary restraining order and injunction against Packers Sanitation Services Inc. LTD (PSSI)–one of the nation’s leading providers of food safety sanitation–to stop the company from illegally employing dozens of minor-aged workers.
According to The Washington Post, a federal judge on November 10 granted a preliminary injunction ordering the company to immediately stop using “oppressive child labor” and comply with DOL’s demands for information. DOL stated it would continue to investigate PSSI’s labor practices while the court decisions are pending.
PSSI provides contract sanitation services, chemical innovations, pest prevention, and other solutions for about 700 food processing facilities nationwide and employs about 17,000 workers.
Filed in the U.S. District Court for Nebraska in Lincoln, the complaint was prompted by an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, which discovered that PSSI had employed at least 31 children from 13 to 17 years of age in hazardous occupations. The jobs performed by the children included cleaning dangerous powered equipment during overnight shifts to fulfill sanitation contracts at JBS USA plants in Grand Island, Nebraska, and Worthington, Minnesota, and at Turkey Valley Farms in Marshall, Minnesota. Investigators also learned that several of the employed minors, including a 13-year-old employee, suffered caustic chemical burns and other injuries on the job.
The investigation at PSSI began on Aug. 24, 2022, when the division received credible information alleging the company assigned minors to work in hazardous occupation. The division executed warrants for the company’s operations at the three plants, its local offices and at PSSI’s Keiler, Wisconsin, corporate office. In its filing, the department accused PSSI of interfering with its investigation by intimidating minor workers to stop them from cooperating with investigators. PSSI also allegedly deleted and manipulated employment files.
“The Department of Labor will use every available legal resource to protect workers—regardless of their age—and hold to account those employers who mistakenly believe they can violate the Fair Labor Standards Act, obstruct federal investigations, and retaliate against workers who assert their rights,” said Christine Heri, regional solicitor of labor in Chicago.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, minors under the age of 14 are prohibited from working. Under the same act, 14- and 15-year-old employees must not work later than 9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day and not past 7 p.m. for the remainder of the year. Additionally, minors cannot work more than three hours on a school day, eight hours on a non-school day, or more than 18 hours per week. The law also prohibits minors from operating motor vehicles, forklifts, and other hazardous equipment.
“Federal laws were established decades ago to prevent employers from profiting by putting children in harm’s way,” said Michael Lazzeri, wage and hour regional administrator in Chicago. “Taking advantage of children, exposing them to workplace dangers—and interfering with a federal investigation—demonstrates Packers Sanitation Services Inc.’s flagrant disregard for the law and for the well-being of young workers.”
To assist employers in avoiding violations and to inform young workers and their parents, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division has published Seven Child Labor Best Practices for Employers. For confidential compliance assistance, employees and employers can call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).
November/December Edition of ISSA Today Now Available Online
The November/December edition of ISSA Today—now available in digital format for your desktop, smartphone, or tablet―helps you stay up to date on the latest cleaning industry and ISSA-member news.
In the latest issue, enjoy a snapshot of ISSA Show North America 2022, including award winners, in pictures and videos. Then get ready for some insightful content about job training vs. workforce development.
The November/December issue also covers:
- Straight Talk!
“Rethink Clean” as ISSA enters its 100th year.
- Verification and Validation
Use the two “Vs” to improve your cleaning processes.
- Help ISSA End Period Poverty
Join the cause to create easy access to menstrual products.
- Member Spotlight
Sofidel Group is a multinational company achieving a “less is more” approach.
- And so much more!
Why not see for yourself? Check out this edition’s table of contents to get started.
Cintas Announces 2022 S.H.I.N.E. Award Winner
Cintas Corp. recently announced the selection of Christine Perkins as the grand prize winner of the 2022 Cintas Star Housekeepers In a New Era (S.H.I.N.E.) Award. The annual award program recognizes housekeeping professionals employed at U.S. hospitality properties for their contributions to guest safety and satisfaction.
“This year’s S.H.I.N.E. Award finalists truly embody what a strong work ethic looks like,” said Nicole Beall, Cintas vice president of hospitality and gaming strategic markets. “Housekeepers in the hospitality industry have shown great resilience and dedication to overcome tremendous obstacles the last few years, while they have worked tirelessly to provide exceptional service to guests and staff alike.”
Perkins, a housekeeper at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Cedar City, Utah, was chosen by a panel of judges to receive the grand prize of US$5,000. Additionally, her workplace will receive the following:
- $2,500 in cleaning and hygiene products and services from Cintas
- A training and development package from the Indoor Environmental Healthcare and Hospitality Association (IEHA), a Division of ISSA, valued at $3,500
- Enrollment in the GBAC Infectious Disease Awareness Course from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council™ (GBAC), a Division of ISSA, valued at $500
- A comprehensive product package from Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP), valued at more than $2,300.
In nominating Perkins for the S.H.I.N.E. Awards, her general manager, Shallon Engle, called her a “superstar who has endured a lot,” specifically noting Perkins’ commitment to her job through the most challenging of circumstances. Following a COVID-19 diagnosis, Perkins had suffered a significant stroke that affected her ability to speak, count, and read. Because of the severity of her stroke, she was rushed to a hospital in a nearby town, but she still managed to alert her staff so that her work at the Holiday Inn & Suites would be performed in her absence.
Perkins has since received treatment for her stroke, has regained the full ability to speak, and has returned to the property in her role as head housekeeper.
“We received numerous nominations this year, and every single entry highlighted the important work that housekeepers are doing and the positive impact they have on their hospitality properties across the country,” Beall said. “However, Christine’s dedication to the hotel’s staff and guests—despite her own life-threatening emergency—made her stand out, and we’re so honored to recognize her as this year’s S.H.I.N.E. Award grand-prize winner.”
For more information, including complete list of the contest’s runners up, visit cintas.com/SHINEAwards/.