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The Labor Division on Thursday sued Hyundai over the usage of baby labor in Alabama, holding the automotive producer answerable for the employment of youngsters 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 youngsters at a Sensible Alabama manufacturing unit in Luverne, Ala., which produces elements like physique panels which can be shipped to a Hyundai manufacturing unit in Montgomery. The swimsuit additionally claimed a staffing company, Greatest Observe Service, recruited the youngsters to work on the provider’s plant.

In an announcement, Hyundai mentioned baby 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 concept that might unfairly maintain Hyundai accountable for the actions of its suppliers.”

Sensible didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. Representatives of Greatest 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 Greatest Observe Service, the swimsuit claimed. The swimsuit additionally contended that two different kids have been employed on the plant.

The Labor Division mentioned that by the employment of youngsters at its provider, Hyundai was in violation of the “sizzling items” provision of the Honest Labor Requirements Act, which prevents the interstate commerce of products “that have been produced in violation of the minimal wage, additional time or baby labor provisions” of that regulation.

“Corporations can’t escape legal responsibility by blaming suppliers or staffing corporations for baby labor violations when they’re in reality additionally employers themselves,” mentioned Seema Nanda, the Labor Division’s chief authorized officer, in an announcement Thursday.

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

Hyundai imports a lot of its automobiles from South Korea however has made massive investments in factories within the South, spending practically $8 billion on an electrical automobile plant in Georgia. The United Car Employees union has mentioned it hopes to prepare staff at Hyundai’s Montgomery plant.

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