A Hyundai supplier has been accused in federal court of using child labor in an Alabama factory just weeks after Reuters reported similar allegations at another of the auto giant’s Alabama suppliers.
The U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama alleging that SL Alabama, a subsidiary of the South Korean SL Corp and supplier to the Korean automaker, employed underage workers in an Alexander City factory.
The lawsuit claims that the auto parts supplier has violated labor laws since Nov. 29, 2021, by employing children under the age of 16. SL Alabama employs about 650 people at the factory, which makes headlights, rear combination lights, and side mirrors for auto companies including Hyundai and Kia, according to SL Alabama’s website.
A Hyundai spokesperson said in a statement to the Montgomery Advertiser that “Hyundai does not tolerate illegal employment practices in any Hyundai entity. We have policies and procedures in place that require compliance with all local, state, and federal laws.”
SL Alabama did not return the Advertiser’s requests for comment over the phone or email Tuesday afternoon.
SL America’s website says that “all business activities in Korea and abroad shall be carried out in accordance with the laws and regulations of the respective countries and respect the customs of the trade.”
Filed alongside the complaint is a proposed judgment signed by SL Alabama executives and DOL attorneys but not yet signed by a judge. If approved, the judgment would require SL Alabama to stop employing minors, punish managers responsible for the violations, cut ties with subcontractors who have employed children and undergo quarterly child labor trainings.
The lawsuit comes just weeks after Reuters reported that SMART Alabama LLC, another Hyundai supplier, used child labor at its metal stamping plant in Luverne, Alabama.
Underage workers as young as 12 years old have recently worked at the plant, Reuters reported. SMART Alabama LLC operates the plant, which has supplied parts to Hyundai’s sole U.S. manufacturing facility since 2004, according to the supplier’s website.
It’s unclear if SMART Alabama LLC will face charges.
The Alabama Attorney General’s Office has not responded to the Advertiser’s requests for comment sent Tuesday.
Evan Mealins is the justice reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanMealins.
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