Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI), one of the nation’s largest food safety sanitation services providers, has paid $1.5 million in civil money penalties after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found the company employed at least 102 children in hazardous occupations and had them working overnight shifts at 13 meat processing facilities in eight states.
The employer’s payment of civil money penalties is the result of the division’s investigation of PSSI, based in Kieler, Wisconsin. The division found that children were working with hazardous chemicals and cleaning meat processing equipment including back saws, brisket saws, and head splitters. Investigators learned at least three minors suffered injuries while working for PSSI.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA), the department assessed PSSI $15,138 for each minor-aged employee who was employed in violation of the law. The amount is the maximum civil money penalty allowed by federal law.
The division began the Packers Sanitation Services Inc. investigation in August 2022, and on November 9, 2022, the Solicitor’s Office filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court of Nebraska based on evidence that the company—which provides cleaning services under contract to some of the nation’s largest meat and poultry producers—had employed at least 31 children, 13–17 years of age, in hazardous occupations to clean dangerous powered equipment during overnight shifts at JBS USA plants in Grand Island, Nebraska, and Worthington, Minnesota; and at Turkey Valley Farms in Marshall, Minnesota. U.S. District Court Judge John M. Gerrard responded by issuing a temporary restraining order on November 10, 2022, forbidding the company and its employees from committing child labor violations.
On December 6, 2022, the U.S. District Court of Nebraska entered a consent order and judgment, in which the employer agreed to comply with the FLSA’s child labor provisions in all of its operations nationwide, and to take significant steps to ensure future compliance with the law, including employing an outside compliance specialist.
On February 16, 2023, PSSI paid $1.5 million in civil money penalties.