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Chicken Companies Probed in Federal Investigation Over Child Labor Claims

By Michael DeRienzo, Esq. | Last updated on

Think back to when you were a teenager. Between school, sports, and social expectations, you probably didn't have much free time. But you also needed money, so you did what teenagers always do: you begged your parents. And when that failed, you thought about opening your own business or, if you're younger, you thought about being an influencer. And when those options seemed to daunting, you found yourself getting a part time job.

Maybe you worked at the mall, folding designer clothes that hopefully were ethically manufactured. Or maybe you worked at a fast food joint, flipping burgers that might have been too small.

But what you made you kept, and you felt good to be part of the system, earning your keep and being fairly compensated.

Child Labor Laws Protect Kids, Not Businesses

What you probably didn't know was that you were only feeling good about your part time job of because specific child labor laws. These laws, like the Fair Labor Standards Act, were put into place to ensure teenagers worked appropriate hours, at an age appropriate occupation, and earned an an appropriate wage.

It did not matter if the restaurant was understaffed or if it was Black Friday, the law dictates what teenagers can do and when they can do it.

These laws are designed to protect children from being exploited. However, certain businesses have discovered workarounds to feign arrogance, and the Government is now catching up with them.

Slaughterhouses Silent on Slavery Accusations

Since May 2023, border crossings on the southern border hit an all time high. Before the expiration of Title 42, the United States could turn away adults under Covid-19 concerns. However, unaccompanied children were mostly allowed in, leading to a crisis of what to do with these literal children with nobody to care for them.

Some went to live with family members or sponsors, while many were left to fend for themselves. But once they arrived in the United States, almost all of them had one thing on their mind: work. And as they were alone, desperate, and unable to understand their rights, large companies took advantage of these children.

Two such companies currently under federal investigation are Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms. The two chicken giants are facing accusations of hiring children under the age of 18 to work dangerous, overnight shifts cleaning the factories.

The federal investigation comes after a harrowing report by the New York Times Magazine. In the article, teenagers were interviewed about their daily lives working the overnight shift at slaughterhouses. During these shifts, they worked with acids and pressure washers. One teenager actually almost lost an arm after a machine accident.

While the teenagers work for a outside contractor, it was alleged that it's an open secret that these children used fake documentation to obtain these jobs. Did the companies look the other way to get cheap labor without liability?

While it's early in the investigation, this is the first step in the government's mission to protect children from being taken advantage of. Corporations cannot avoid responsibility by playing chicken with the truth.

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