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The Labor Division on Thursday sued Hyundai over using baby labor in Alabama, holding the automobile producer accountable 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 automobile elements.

Within the swimsuit, filed in a federal court docket in Montgomery, Ala., the division stated Hyundai was liable for the employment of youngsters at a Sensible Alabama manufacturing facility in Luverne, Ala., which produces elements like physique panels which are shipped to a Hyundai manufacturing facility in Montgomery. The swimsuit additionally claimed a staffing company, Greatest Follow Service, recruited the kids to work on the provider’s plant.

In a press release, Hyundai stated 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 Follow Service, which is 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 Follow Service, the swimsuit claimed. The swimsuit additionally contended that two different youngsters had been employed on the plant.

The Labor Division stated that by the employment of youngsters 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, extra time or baby labor provisions” of that legislation.

“Firms can’t escape legal responsibility by blaming suppliers or staffing corporations for baby labor violations when they’re actually additionally employers themselves,” stated 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 Occasions documented using baby labor by the suppliers of automobile 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 Occasions discovered youngsters employed on the suppliers of Normal Motors and Ford Motor.

Hyundai imports lots of its autos from South Korea however has made large investments in factories within the South, spending almost $8 billion on an electrical car plant in Georgia. The United Car Staff union has stated it hopes to prepare staff at Hyundai’s Montgomery plant.

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