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The Labor Division on Thursday sued Hyundai over the usage of little one labor in Alabama, holding the automotive producer responsible for the employment of kids in its provide chain, together with a 13-year-old woman who labored as much as 60 hours per week making automotive elements.

Within the swimsuit, filed in a federal courtroom in Montgomery, Ala., the division mentioned Hyundai was chargeable for the employment of kids at a Sensible Alabama manufacturing facility in Luverne, Ala., which produces elements like physique panels which can be shipped to a Hyundai manufacturing facility in Montgomery. The swimsuit additionally claimed a staffing company, Finest Observe Service, recruited the kids to work on the provider’s plant.

In a press release, Hyundai mentioned little one labor was “not per the requirements and values we maintain ourselves to as an organization.” It added that the Labor Division used “an unprecedented authorized principle that may unfairly maintain Hyundai accountable for the actions of its suppliers.”

Sensible didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. Representatives of Finest Observe Service, which is now not in enterprise, couldn’t be reached for remark.

From July 2021 to February 2022, a 13-year-old woman labored on the Sensible plant, the place she was recruited to work by Finest Observe Service, the swimsuit claimed. The swimsuit additionally contended that two different kids had been employed on the plant.

The Labor Division mentioned that via the employment of kids at its provider, Hyundai was in violation of the “sizzling items” provision of the Truthful Labor Requirements Act, which prevents the interstate commerce of products “that had been produced in violation of the minimal wage, additional time or little one labor provisions” of that regulation.

“Corporations can’t escape legal responsibility by blaming suppliers or staffing firms for little one labor violations when they’re in truth additionally employers themselves,” mentioned Seema Nanda, the Labor Division’s chief authorized officer, in a press release Thursday.

The swimsuit comes after investigations by Reuters and The New York Instances documented the usage of little one labor by the suppliers of automotive firms. In 2022, Reuters discovered that Sensible Alabama had used little one labor at its facility, and that Kia, which is a part of the identical South Korean conglomerate as Hyundai, had additionally used little one labor within the South. A 2023 investigation by The Instances discovered kids employed on the suppliers of Common Motors and Ford Motor.

Hyundai imports a lot of its autos from South Korea however has made large investments in factories within the South, spending almost $8 billion on an electrical automobile plant in Georgia. The United Car Staff union has mentioned it hopes to arrange employees at Hyundai’s Montgomery plant.

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