Poultry Processor Fined $3.8million for Hiring Under-aged and Endangering Children - LivestockTrend


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Wednesday 6 December 2023

Poultry Processor Fined $3.8million for Hiring Under-aged and Endangering Children

A poultry supplier in Southern California, accused of employing underage workers in hazardous conditions, has agreed to pay nearly $3.8 million in back wages, damages, and penalties. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigators discovered that Exclusive Poultry Inc., along with related companies operating in La Puente and the city of Industry, had put young workers at risk.

Photo: Canva

Owned by Tony Bran, Exclusive Poultry processes and supplies meat to various supermarkets and food distributors, including Ralphs, Aldi, Grocery Outlet, and SYSCO Corp. 

Bran set up multiple "front" companies, such as Meza Poultry LLC, Valtierra Poultry LLC, Sullon Poultry Inc., and Nollus’s Poultry LLC, to employ workers at the two processing plants.

The judgment impacts 437 employees who were either underpaid or working in violation of child labor laws. The investigation, spanning from August 1, 2020, to October 2023, revealed that the companies paid employees a straight hourly rate, even for weeks when they worked 50 to 60 hours. Some workers were deliberately excluded from payroll records.

According to investigators, children employed by the company often worked excessive hours, violating federal child labor regulations. Exclusive Poultry allegedly retaliated against workers who cooperated with the investigation by reducing their wages. Representatives from the company could not be reached for comment.

A consent judgment was obtained by the Labor Department from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Exclusive Poultry and Bran. The judgment orders them to pay $3.5 million in back wages and damages, including $300,000 in punitive damages and $100,614 in back wages. Additionally, they must pay $201,104 in civil penalties for child labor and willful violations.

To ensure compliance, Bran and Exclusive Poultry are required to retain a monitor for three years and show a hiring preference for workers who were terminated following the department's search of the poultry plants. 

An injunction from the U.S. District Court prevents the companies from shipping any poultry products produced in violation of overtime and child labor laws, known as "hot goods." The Labor Department collaborated with the Los Angeles County Office of Immigrant Affairs and its community partners, with U.S. Marshals assisting in executing a search warrant at the two processing plants.

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