Monogram Meat Snacks LLC ordered to pay over $140K for child labor violations

A food manufacturer has been ordered to pay a penalty after the U.S. Department of Labor determined the company employed at least 11 children in Chandler, Minn.

Monogram Meat Snacks LLC agreed to pay $140,164 in civil money penalties after an investigation by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division determined Monogram violated federal child labor laws by employing five 17-year-olds, four 16-year-olds, and two 15-year-olds, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The investigation, which began in March 2023, is a part of the division’s push to tackle child labor, which has increased almost 70% since 2018.

The children were working with hazardous machinery, the release added.

The investigation also ruled that Monogram cannot ship snack foods like beef jerky, cheese, and sausage under the “hot goods” provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to the company, the “hot goods” provision ruling only applied to some goods at its facility in Chandler that were released in July.

“As we made clear earlier this year, the Department of Labor and the Biden-Harris administration are committed to combating the troubling increase in child labor violations,” said Principal Deputy Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman. “No employer should ever jeopardize the safety of children by employing them to operate dangerous equipment. Employers are legally responsible to recognize potential child labor violations and to take all appropriate actions to verify that they are not employing children illegally.”

According to the release, “the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota entered a consent judgment and order on July 6, 2023, which requires the company to not violate child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act in addition to taking certain steps to ensure compliance, including the hiring of a third-party consultant to conduct nationwide audits, establish a toll-free number for employees to report potential child labor compliance issues anonymously, and identify and mark hazardous equipment.”

“This case’s resolution makes clear the Department of Labor will not tolerate companies seeking to profit by illegally employing children,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “Child labor abuses are a stain on our nation, and we will continue to utilize every tool and legal strategy at our disposal to keep young people safe.”

“The employment of children in hazardous occupations cannot be allowed here in the U.S. or in any other nation,” Nanda added. “In this and similar cases, we have put companies that employ children to produce goods illegally on notice that we will stop them from shipping and selling goods produced under the ‘hot goods’ provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act.”

A spokesperson for Monogram Foods sent 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the following statement regarding the investigation:

“Our company has zero tolerance for, and we do not want, any ineligible underage individuals working at any of our facilities. We are disappointed to learn that following the DOL’s review of the records of hundreds of employees from the past three years, it identified nine former employees who the DOL states were employed in the past in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) age requirements. We believe the significant companywide improvements, including voluntary measures, we have made to our existing policies and procedures make it significantly less likely this will occur again in the future as we strive to continue to meet our high standards for compliance.”