Tennessee Manufacturer Penalized for Child Labor Violations: US Department of Labor Takes Swift Action

Tennessee Manufacturer Penalized for Child Labor Violations: US Department of Labor Takes Swift Action

The U.S. Department of Labor has intervened in response to alarming findings of exploitative child labor practices at a Morristown manufacturing facility. Tuff Torq Corp., a prominent manufacturer of outdoor power equipment components, has been compelled to reckon with the consequences of its actions following investigations revealing egregious violations of federal labor laws.

The Department's Wage and Hour Division, charged with safeguarding the rights of workers across the nation, uncovered disturbing evidence of children being subjected to perilous working conditions within Tuff Torq's operations. This discovery, made on January 23, 2024, when investigators witnessed a child operating machinery prohibited for minors under the age of 18, prompted swift and resolute action from authorities.

In response to these grave violations, the Department obtained a federal consent judgment entered in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greenville on March 22, 2024. This judgment not only mandates Tuff Torq to cease its illegal employment of children but also imposes significant penalties on the company.

Central to the judgment is a civil money penalty amounting to $296,951, underscoring the severity of Tuff Torq's transgressions. Moreover, the company has been compelled to set aside $1.5 million as disgorgement of profits accrued over 30 days, directly linked to its exploitative use of child labor. These funds are earmarked for the benefit of the children unlawfully employed by the company, signaling a commitment to mitigating the harm inflicted on these vulnerable individuals.

Jessica Looman, Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, emphasized the urgency of addressing such violations, stating, "Even one child working in a dangerous environment is too many." The Department's proactive stance aims to ensure that Tuff Torq takes immediate and substantial measures to rectify its practices and prevent further harm to children.

The consent decree outlines a series of stringent provisions aimed at fostering compliance with child labor laws and fostering a culture of ethical labor practices within Tuff Torq's operations. These provisions include mandatory training for staff, managers, and contractors, the establishment of an anonymous tip line for reporting violations, and allowing unannounced searches of the facility to ensure ongoing compliance.

Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda underscored the significance of the consent decree in holding Tuff Torq accountable for its actions while emphasizing the Department's unwavering commitment to protecting vulnerable workers. This agreement sends a clear message that the exploitation of children in the workplace will not be tolerated, and those who flout labor laws will face severe consequences.

As Tuff Torq grapples with the fallout from its exploitative practices, this case serves as a stark reminder of the imperative to prioritize the well-being of workers, particularly children, and the critical role of regulatory agencies in enforcing labor standards and upholding ethical practices within the workplace.

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