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Iowa AG brings child labor charges against meatpacking plant

[JURIST] Iowa's Attorney General's Office [official website] announced [press release] on Tuesday that it has filed a complaint [PDF text] against meatpacking company Agriprocessors Inc. [corporate website] and its top officials for 9,311 child labor law violations. The alleged violations stem from the company's employment of 32 minors, 25 under the age of 18 and 7 under the age of 16, in conditions prohibited under the state's Child Labor statute [Iowa Code Ch. 92 text]. According to the complaint, the minors were exposed to dangerous chemicals and machinery, worked more hours than allowed, worked during school hours, and were not compensated for overtime work. In the affidavit accompanying the complaint, a government official wrote that the officers knew documents for the children had been forged, and that the company's hiring practices encouraged the falsification. Each violation carries with it a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a fine of $65 to $625. As a result of the accusations, a spokesperson for kosher certification group Orthodox Union on Wednesday said that it will withdraw its endorsement [NYT report] of Agriprocessors products unless the company fires its current CEO. AP has more.

In May, the same Agriprocessors plant was the center of a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] sting which resulted in the arrest and sentencing [ICE press release; JURIST report] of 270 undocumented aliens to 5 months in prison each after all plead guilty to the use of false immigration documents. The guilty pleas in those cases have since been criticized for allegedly depriving the workers of due process [JURIST report] both because of the rapid manner in which the pleas were processed and the lack of information provided to the workers about their rights.

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