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Alabama Fines Hyundai, Kia Parts Manufacturers Over ‘Oppressive Child Labor’

 Alabama   Department of Labor officials   said   Tuesday that two companies that manufacture car parts for Hyundai and Kia were issued more...

 Alabama Department of Labor officials said Tuesday that two companies that manufacture car parts for Hyundai and Kia were issued more than $35,000 in fines for violating the state’s child labor laws.

Automotive supplier SL Alabama, which produces headlights and mirrors for Hyundai, and JK USA, a temporary employment agency providing workers to car part manufacturers, were fined $17,800 each for multiple violations of the Child Labor Law. Such violations included employing seven children under the age of 16, two violations for failing to obtain proper child labor permits, and five violations for failing to provide identification documents.

“This practice of providing and employing underage and undocumented workers is appalling,” Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said. “Employee safety, especially the safety of children, is a top priority.”

Washington said the businesses violated the law and put these children at risk, some of whom were operating plastic bonding machines in a prohibited occupation and location.

Kenneth Stripling with the U.S. Department of Labor said the investigation found SL Alabama engaged in “oppressive child labor” and reiterated that employers must comply with federal, state, and local labor laws employing workers of legal age.

SL Alabama told Reuters in a statement that the car parts manufacturer “has never knowingly employed minors to work at any of its facilities,” adding that a staffing agency supplied the underage employees to work at the plant.

The company claims it had cooperated with regulators by paying the fines, ended the relationship with the staffing firm, and replaced the facilities president.

Alabama Department of Labor officials issued a warning saying violating child labor laws would “not be tolerated in Alabama” and that the agency will “vigorously investigate any business or industry suspected to be participating in this illegal activity.”

“We will continue to take action and use all tools at our disposal to ensure young workers’ safety and well-being is not jeopardized by employers who fail to comply with the law,” Regional Solicitor of Labor Tremelle I. Howard said, per

Reuters reported in July that investigative work by the outlet documented child labor practices at another auto parts supplier in the state, Hyundai-owned SMART Alabama LLC.

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