Nationwide food manufacturer agrees to companywide compliance with child labor laws after investigation finds 2 teens employed illegally in Minnesota
CHANDLER, MN – A federal court in Minnesota has entered a consent judgment that requires a national food manufacturing company to comply with the federal child labor laws at all of its production facilities and warehouses nationwide, and to take significant steps to comply with these laws in the future.
The court’s action follows a U.S. Department of Labor investigation opened on March 28, 2023, at Monogram Meat Snacks LLC in Chandler, Minnesota, that found the company employed at least two 16- and 17-year-old children to operate meat-processing equipment in violation of federal child labor hazardous orders.
The company is a subsidiary of Monogram Food Solutions LLC in Memphis, Tennessee, manufacturer of meat snacks, appetizers, assembled sandwiches, baked goods and other convenience products for private label sale.
Shortly after investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division began, the department notified the employer that it objected to the shipment of goods from its Chandler facility and issued an “Objection to Shipment letter” that cited the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “hot goods” provision. The provision prevents employers from shipping goods produced illegally by child labor. On April 24, 2023, the company agreed to the department’s request and withheld shipment of the goods as discussions about compliance with the department continued.
The investigation of Monogram is part of the division’s overall effort to combat child labor announced earlier this year. Since 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor has seen a 69 percent increase in children being employed illegally by companies.
“The Department of Labor and the Biden-Harris administration see child labor as a scourge in this country and will not tolerate violations of child labor laws,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “This case shows we will use all of our legal resources, including invoking the ‘hot goods’ provision, as we announced as part of an increased emphasis on combating child labor, to prevent companies from profiting from illegal child labor. Regardless of age, all workers in the U.S. are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and all employers must abide by all of its provisions.”
“As we made clear earlier this year, the Department of Labor and the Biden-Harris administration are committed to combating the increase we have seen in child labor violations,” said Principal Deputy Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman. “In this case, Monogram should have never allowed two children to operate hazardous equipment. After our initial investigation, Monogram Meat Snacks and its parent company have agreed to take important steps to prevent future child labor violations. Employers are legally responsible for training their management, hiring specialists and front-line supervisors to recognize potential child labor violations and to take all appropriate actions to verify that they are not employing children and other young people illegally.”
On July 6, 2023, the U.S. District Court of Minnesota entered a consent order and judgment, in which Monogram Food Solutions LLC agreed to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor provisions at all of its production facilities and warehouses nationwide and ensure future compliance with child labor laws, including hiring an outside compliance specialist within 90 days.
The employer agreed to pay $30,276 in civil money penalties for the child labor violations in Chandler.
The department lifted its objection to shipment immediately after the order and judgment was executed and Monogram Food Solutions paid the civil money penalties.
In addition to paying the penalties, the company agreed to several conditions to ensure future compliance with the FLSA’s child labor provisions including:
- Hiring a third-party consultant or compliance specialist within 90 days to monitor compliance with child labor provisions at the Chandler facility for 3 years and at Monogram’s other facilities for 2 years.
- Using the division’s Youth Employment Compliance Assistance Toolkit to identify materials for use in training employees, provided in a language understood by workers; and maintaining training logs.
- Auditing machinery at all facilities and affixing special stickers to machines that workers under age 18 cannot operate legally.
- Establishing a toll-free number for employees to seek guidance and report compliance issues with the FLSA child labor provisions anonymously.
- Notifying the Wage and Hour Division immediately of child labor violations found and cure such violations within 10 business days.
- Submitting an initial report to the division, within 180 days, outlining steps taken to comply with the requirements of the consent order and judgment and provide annual reports.
- Notifying the department, for 180 days following execution of the order and judgment, of each employee employed at the Chandler facility whose employment ended, either voluntarily or involuntarily, after March 29, 2023.
While Monogram Meat Snacks is a subsidiary of Monogram Food Solutions LLC in Memphis, Tennessee, Monogram Management Services Inc. is the named employer of all Monogram employees. In addition to its Chandler location, Monogram operates and employs workers in meat-packing establishments in Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.