Hyundai, Lawsuit

Hyundai Faces DOL Lawsuit After Being Accused Of Hiring 13-Year-Old Girl To Work Assembly Line 

'Instead of attending middle school, she worked on an assembly line making parts,' the DOJ said in the complaint.

A Hyundai manufacturing plant in Alabama is being sued by the U.S. Department of Labor for allegedly employing a 13-year-old girl to an assembly line—for 50 hours a week. 

The complaint claims the manufacturer hired the minor illegally in collaboration with another auto parts manufacturer and a staffing agency. The Labor Department wants the Alabama federal court to stop the companies from hiring children illegally as well as “surrender profits related to the use of oppressive child labor.”

“A thirteen-year-old girl worked up to 50-60 hours per week at a manufacturing facility in Luverne, Alabama, over a period of six to seven months,” the complaint said. “Instead of attending middle school, she worked on an assembly line making parts.”

The filing accuses the defendants of profiting off of “use of oppressive child labor” with consumers across the country unknowingly purchasing cars assembled by minors.

According to CNN, the child worked on machines that turned sheet metal into body parts for vehicles between July 11, 2021 and February 1, 2022. The allegation put all three companies in violation of child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

“A 13-year-old working on an assembly line in the United States of America shocks the conscience,” Wage and Hour Division Administrator Jessica Looman said in a statement. “As we work to stop illegal child labor where we find it, we also continue to ensure that all employers are held accountable for violating the law.”

Child labor advocates are celebrating the agency’s actions to hold companies accountable for adhering to child labor laws, including in states working toward relaxing laws in place.

In Florida, a bill was proposed on Dec. 14 seeking to eliminate state guidelines for children, ages 16 and 17, on when they can work. Sponsored by Republican State Rep. Linda Chaney, HB 49 would also limit the ability of local government bodies to propose stronger regulations in their communities.

Laws in Florida currently make it illegal for employers to have minors under 18 work more than 30 hours a week throughout the school year, have them work during school hours, have them work between the hours of 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., or schedule older teens to work more than six days in a row.

Hyundai said it “took steps to fix the issue” and took preventable steps that hinders future employment of under-age workers.

“After we learned of the alleged supplier violations, we took immediate actions,” the statement read. “At our request, the suppliers involved terminated their relationships with the third-party staffing agencies even though those agencies had certified that they had screened and cleared individuals as being of legal age. In addition, we completed an investigation and a broader review of our U.S. supplier network.”

“Companies cannot escape liability by blaming suppliers or staffing companies for child labor violations when they are in fact also employers themselves,” Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda said.

Close to 1,000 cases were being investigated by the Labor Department as of 2023, ABC News reports, involving 5,792 children nationwide, including 502 children employed in violation of hazardous occupation standards.

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