Major Automaker Caught Using Child Labor

Photo by Enis Yavuz on Unsplash

( – According to reports surfacing Monday, the U.S. Labor Department has sued Hyundai for illegally using child labor in its Alabama factory assembly line.  

The complaint emerged after an investigation into the factory uncovered a 13-year-old who worked between 50 and 60 hours a week operating machinery on an assembly line to form sheet metal into car body parts.  

The lawsuit names Hyundai, a South Korean automobile giant, a labor recruiter, and the auto parts plant as defendants and seeks an order mandating the defendants to give up profits linked to the use of child labor.  

In a statement, Hyundai distanced itself from the use of child labor, stating it had cooperated with the Department of Labor and couldn’t be held responsible for its suppliers’ actions.  

According to reporting by the Daily Mail, SMART Alabama, which Hyundai holds a majority stake in, supplies the South Korean automobile giant with parts for its most popular vehicles built at its Montgomery assembly plant.  

SMART Alabama explained that it relies on temporary work agencies to fill roles and expects the agencies “to follow the law” when hiring, recruiting, or placing workers at its facility.  

According to local labor recruiters and current and former SMART employees, many of the minors hired to work at the factory had been placed by recruitment agencies.  

Staffing companies have come under intense scrutiny in recent years for their role in enabling large employers to outsource the responsibility of ensuring workers are eligible for the positions they fill.  

However, organizations are attempting to ensure employers are held to account. 

In a statement to CNN, Jessica Looman, Wage and Hour Division Administrator, highlighted that “a 13-year-old working on an assembly line” in the U.S. was a shock to the conscience,  adding that the organization works to ensure “all employers are held accountable for violating the law.”

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