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Tennessee Manufacturer Ordered To Pay Over $1.5 Million For Child Labor Violations



A manufacturer of parts for companies including John Deere, Toro and Yamaha, has been ordered to turn over $1.5 million in profits for the benefit of ten children illegally employed in dangerous positions, the U.S. Labor Department said Monday.
A federal consent decree requires Tuff Torq in Morristown, Tenn., to stop illegally employing children, to pay a $296,951 civil penalty, and to set aside $1.5 million as disgorgement of 30 days profits to be used for the benefit of the children employed illegally.
The agency said that to date, Tuff Torq subjected 10 children to oppressive child labor.
The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division had been investigating Tuff Torq for months, and in January obtained clear evidence of unlawful conduct when a child was observed operating a power-driven hoisting apparatus, which is prohibited for workers under 18.
As a result, the agency halted a shipment of hot goods, or goods produced by oppressive child labor.
“Even one child working in a dangerous environment is too many,” Wage and Hour Division Administrator Jessica Looman said in a statement. “Over the past year, we have seen an alarming increase in child labor violations, and these violations put children in harms way. With this agreement, we are ensuring Tuff Torq takes immediate and significant steps to stop the illegal employment of children. When employers fail to meet their obligations, we will act swiftly to hold them accountable and protect children.”
Along with monetary penalties and an agreement to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, Tuff Torq agreed to several other provisions under the consent decree.
The company said it will establish an anonymous tip line for reporting child labor and other suspected FLSA violations; allow unannounced and warrantless searches of its facility to three years; refrain from entering any new contracts with staffing agencies or other contractors with child labor violations and will require contractors to disclose child labor violations and hiring protocols; and contract with a community-based organization to provide regular training to staff, managers and contractors.
“This consent decree holds Tuff Torq accountable while also discouraging future violations, focusing on the supply chain, and striving to make the victims whole,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “This agreement puts in practice what we have long been saying. The department will not tolerate companies profiting on the backs of children employed unlawfully in dangerous occupations. Tuff Torq has agreed to disgorge profits, which will go to the benefit of the children. This sends a clear message: putting children in harms way in the workplace is not only illegal, but also comes with significant financial consequences.”
TMX contributed to this article.