Feds identify underage workers in Alabama Mar-Jac plant

The federal investigators are asking the judge on the case to halt the sale of Mar-Jac’s chicken that was produced while the minors were employed.

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Six employees have been identified as minors by federal investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) at a Mar-Jac Poultry processing facility located in north Alabama, according to media outlet AL.com.

After being informed of the potential illegal activity, DOL investigators inspected the Jasper, Alabama, plant on May 1,2024, and discovered the underage workers.

According to the court document, the six workers had been on the company’s payroll for multiple months. While the DOL said the employees were on the kill floor deboning poultry and cutting carcasses, lawyers representing Mar-Jac plant said the minors were not employed in hazardous areas and were not required to use heavy machinery.

The poultry producer’s attorneys claim that the minors used forged documents that passed through the company’s hiring system and were terminated after their real ages were discovered.

Attorneys representing the DOL filed a civil action lawsuit against Mar-Jac on May 7, 2024, to stop the production and sale of all goods produced with child labor through May 31. Additionally, the DOL is requesting the plant to stop shipment for 30 days to prevent “hot goods” from being sold into interstate commerce. Hot goods are defined by the DOL as goods that were produced in an establishment in which oppressive child labor occurred.

Mar-Jac’s lawyers say the civil action is unnecessary and would cause substantial amounts of work for the rest of the poultry plant’s employees, as the producer would be forced to destroy all poultry meat involved in the incident.

The lawsuit is ongoing as of May 17, 2024.

Other Mar-Jac plants have been in similar situations

In July 2023, a Mar-Jac employee, who was identified as a 16 year old male, was killed in a workplace accident while performing sanitation duties at the producer’s facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

In February 2024, the minor’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Mar-Jac and the staffing company that hired him. 

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