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U.S. Department of Labor sues Hyundai over child labor in Alabama

The child reportedly worked up to 60 hours per week at the SMART assembly line.

The U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit on May 30 against Hyundai, an auto parts plant, and a labor recruiter in Alabama over the illegal use of child labor. The lawsuit seeks to reclaim any profits associated with this practice. This action also follows a Reuters report in 2022 revealing that children as young as 12 are working for Hyundai’s subsidiary and other suppliers in the state.

The lawsuit explicitly names Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama LLC, SMART Alabama LLC, an auto parts supplier, and Best Practice Service LLC, a staffing firm, for employing a 13-year-old child. The child reportedly worked up to 60 hours per week at the SMART assembly line. SMART supplies components to Hyundai’s Alabama plant, which manufactures popular models like the Santa Fe, the Tucson, and the Santa Cruz.

Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda emphasized that companies cannot evade responsibility by shifting blame to suppliers or staffing firms for child labor violations when they are also direct employers. The Labor Department’s investigation found that SMART and Hyundai’s operations were so intertwined that they were considered a single employer under U.S. labor law during the period of the violations.

Hyundai, now separate from SMART since the latter changed its name to ITAC Alabama in 2023, stated that it had thoroughly investigated the issue and taken remedial actions upon discovering the violations. However, the Labor Department is pursuing legal action based on concerns about holding Hyundai accountable and setting precedents for other automakers and manufacturers.

The Reuters reports in 2022 played a crucial role in uncovering these violations, leading to the rescue of several children and sparking numerous state and federal investigations. The surge in child labor violations nationwide, as noted by the Labor Department, underscores the ongoing challenges in safeguarding labor rights, especially among vulnerable populations.

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Jaelyn Campbell
Jaelyn Campbell
Jaelyn Campbell is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. She is a recent honors cum laude graduate with a BFA in Mass Media from Valdosta State University. Jaelyn is an enthusiastic creator with more than four years of experience in corporate communications, editing, broadcasting, and writing. Her articles in The Spectator, her hometown newspaper, changed how people perceive virtual reality. She connects her readers to the facts while providing them a voice to understand the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the digital world.

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