Alabama Hyundai, Kia parts maker told no more child laborers, feds say

Published 2:23 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Federal officials say a federal court has ordered an Alabama car parts supplier of Hyundai and Kia to stop using illegal child laborers.

The U.S. Department of Labor obtained the federal court order to stop an Alexander City manufacturer of Hyundai and Kia auto parts from employing 13-, 14- and 15-year-old workers illegally, and to prevent the company from shipping or delivering any goods produced in violation of federal child labor laws.

In a Sept. 29, 2022, consent judgment, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama permanently enjoined SL Alabama LLC from violating the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor provisions and from shipping any goods produced within 30 days of a child labor violation. This action follows an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division, in cooperation with the Alabama Department of Labor’s Child Labor Enforcement office and Alabama’s Office of the Attorney General.

“Our investigation found SL Alabama engaged in oppressive child labor by employing young workers under the minimum age of 14, and by employing minors under 16 in a manufacturing occupation,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Kenneth Stripling in Birmingham, Alabama. “Employers are responsible for knowing who is working in their facilities, ensuring that those individuals are of legal working age, and that their employment complies with all federal, state and local labor laws.”

The consent judgment also requires SL Alabama to provide training materials to employees and subcontractors or other entities that provide workers to the Alexander City site to ensure child labor standards compliance. The company must also hire a third-party company to provide quarterly child labor training to all management personnel and subcontractors for a three-year period. Finally, SL Alabama must impose sanctions – including termination or suspension – on any management or subcontractors found responsible for child labor violations. In addition to the judgment in this matter, the Wage and Hour Division assessed, and SL Alabama paid, a $30,076 civil money penalty to address the child labor violations.

“The U.S. Department of Labor acted swiftly to protect workers as young 13, 14 and 15 years old from harm and prevent SL Alabama from employing these minors in hazardous occupations,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Tremelle I. Howard in Atlanta. “We will continue to take action and use all tools at our disposal to ensure young workers’ safety and well-being is not jeopardized by employers who fail to comply with the law.”

The FLSA prohibits the employment of minors in hazardous occupations and makes it illegal for employers to ship products originating from any worksite in which child labor violations have been detected, pursuant to Sections 15(a)(1) and 12(a) of the Act. Under the FLSA, the department can seek a court order to prevent the interstate shipment of goods that were produced in violation of the minimum wage, overtime or child labor provisions of the FLSA. The order can apply to the employer who produced the goods and to anyone in possession of the goods.

Established in 2003, SL Alabama LLC employs approximately 650 workers in the Alexander City area. The employer manufactures headlights, rear combination lights and side mirrors for Hyundai and Kia. The company also operates SL Tennessee in Clinton, Tennessee, and Michigan-Engineering Center in Auburn Hills, Michigan.