Meat Processor, Staffing Agency to Surrender $327,000 in Illegal Profits from Child Labor

A consent judgment also requires the companies to pay more than $62,000 in penalties.

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The Labor Department recently received a federal consent judgment ordering a California meat processor and staffing agency to surrender $327,484 in illegal profits made from sales of products associated with oppressive, exploitative child labor. The employers must also pay the department $62,516 in penalties.

The judgment follows an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division that determined City of Industry-based A&J Meats and The Right Hire in Downey jointly employed and endangered children as young as 15, who used sharp knives, worked inside freezers and coolers, and were scheduled at times not permitted by law, all in violation of federal child labor regulations.

Investigators found that children worked at the facility more than three hours a day on school days, past 7 p.m. and more than 18 hours per week while school was in session. The Fair Labor Standards Act forbids employers from employing children under age of 18 in dangerous occupations, including most jobs in meat and poultry slaughtering, processing, rendering and packing establishments.

The judgment also forbids A&J Meats, owner Priscilla Helen Castillo, and The Right Hire staffing agency from future FLSA violations and from trying to trade goods connected to oppressive child labor. In addition, all three parties must also provide annual FLSA training for at least four years and submit to monitoring by an independent third-party for three years.

Castillo’s father, Tony Bran, has also been the found illegally employing children at three poultry processing companies he operates. In October 2023, the same California court ordered his companies to stop endangering children, withholding pay, retaliating, and shipping "hot goods" produced in violation of overtime and child labor laws.

The labor department encourages businesses to monitor their supply chains closely to make sure the goods they purchase, produce and sell are not made with oppressive and illegal child labor.

The department continues to combat child labor abuses and wage theft in the poultry and meat processing industries. This judgment follows numerous cases in California and nationwide where meat processing facilities were found illegally employing children and endangering their safety and wellbeing.

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