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Hyundai faces lawsuit over alleged child labor violations at Alabama plant

US Department of Labor sues Hyundai over child labor violations in Alabama
Photo credit: / James R. Martin

The U.S. Department of Labor has taken legal action against South Korean automotive giant Hyundai Motor Co., an auto parts plant, and a staffing agency for alleged child labor violations. A shocking discovery of a 13-year-old girl working on an assembly line in Alabama has led to a federal lawsuit aiming to address and prevent such unlawful employment practices.

Investigation reveals child labor at auto parts facility

An investigation by the Department of Labor revealed that a minor was employed to work extensive hours at SMART Alabama’s facility, a supplier to Hyundai, during times she should have been in school. The child reportedly worked between 50 to 60 hours a week, raising serious concerns about child welfare and labor law adherence.

Companies held accountable for child labor

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, seeks to compel the involved companies to forfeit profits gained from the use of child labor. The Department of Labor’s wage and hour division administrator, Jessica Looman, expressed that such a situation in the U.S. is deeply troubling and unacceptable.

Despite Hyundai’s statements affirming their commitment to U.S. labor laws and the implementation of corrective measures, the Department of Labor insists that companies cannot eschew responsibility by attributing the fault to staffing suppliers.

Legal implications and industry precedent

This case marks a significant legal challenge as it is the first instance where the Labor Department has sued a major corporation for child labor law violations at a subcontractor. The outcome of this lawsuit could set a precedent affecting other companies in the automotive sector and beyond, regarding their accountability for subcontractors’ actions.

Hyundai has responded to the allegations, stating their adherence to labor laws and detailing the steps taken to address the issue. However, the company also expressed concern over the Labor Department’s approach, which could establish a concerning precedent for the industry.

The legal battle unfolds as the automotive industry faces scrutiny over labor practices, and it underscores the importance of corporate responsibility in supply chain management.

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