Second Hyundai Parts Supplier Accused of Using Child Labor in Alabama

Reuters reports children under 16 years old were working at the plant.

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Photo: SL Alabama

The U.S. Department of Labor is accusing a Hyundai parts supplier of violating federal child labor laws at a factory in Alabama, according to Reuters, the second such recent accusation.

The outlet reports the DOL said SL Alabama LLC employed underage workers at its Alexander City, Alabama factory. From Reuters:

Since last November, SL Alabama “repeatedly violated” labor regulations by “employing oppressive child labor” and “minors under the age of 16,” the DOL said in a six-page complaint.

In a statement to Reuters, SL Alabama admitted children had worked at the plant, which makes headlights, rear lights and other components for companies including Hyundai and its Kia affiliate. SL said the minors had been hired by an outside labor recruitment firm, which it didn’t identify.

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When the news broke about a different factory in July, Hyundai gave this statement to Jalopnik, “Hyundai does not tolerate illegal employment practices in any Hyundai entity. We have policies and procedures in place that require compliance with all local, state, and federal laws.”

The newest one is from a factory that isn’t actually owned by Hyundai, unlike the SMART factory.

The discovery of child workers at a second Hyundai supplier signals widening scrutiny of labor practices in the automaker’s U.S. supply chain. In an emailed statement late Monday, Hyundai said “it does not tolerate illegal employment practices in any Hyundai entity.”

“We have policies and procedures in place that require compliance with all local, state, and federal laws,” it added.

Along with the complaint against SL Alabama, a proposed settlement agreement between the government and the parts manufacturer was filed with the court. Under the terms of that agreement, SL Alabama agreed to stop hiring minors, punish any managers aware of the use of underage employees, and suspend any relationship with any recruiters who supply child workers.

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The agreement between attorneys for SL Alabama and the Department of Labor hasn’t been approved by a judge.

“We fully cooperated with the investigation by the Department of Labor, and we are in the process of complementing our verification system so that minors will not work going forward,” SL said in a statement to Reuters.