A subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co has used child labor at their plant. It is found that a metal stamping company in Alabama is employing children as young as 12 at their plant. The stamping plant is operated by SMART Alabama LLC. Moreover, the metal stamping company supplies car parts to Korean carmaker Hyundai’s assembly line.

Minors are reportedly working at SMART LLC

Hyundai has listed SMART LLC as a majority-owned unit in their corporate filings. Furthermore, it supplies parts for some of the most popular cars and SUVs at their flagship plant in Montgomery. The issue came up when a young girl disappeared in Alabama. The police told Reuters that the girl and her two siblings were working at SMART and were not attending school. Moreover, the girl is 14 and her brother are 12 and 15 years old. Alabama Department of Labor is now investigating the issue in coordination with U.S. Department of Labor. Alabama law bars minors younger than 16 from working in a manufacturing environment. “They were at the SMART factory. They are a SMART employee as far as Alabama Child Labor Law is concerned.” Tara Hutchison, the state spokesperson said in her statement.

Hyundai’s stance

However, Hyundai claims that they are unaware of the issue and will not tolerate child labor. “It does not tolerate illegal employment practices at any Hyundai entity. We have policies and procedures in place that require compliance with all local, state and federal laws.” Although they did not respond to questions from Reuters about the findings in detail. Furthermore, the revelation of child labor in Hyundai’s US supply chain could spark consumer, regulatory and reputational backlash.

SMART’s stance

On the other hand, SMART has denied the allegations and said that they follow state and local laws. “They denies any allegation that it knowingly employed anyone who is ineligible for employment.” Moreover, the company said that rely on temporary work agencies to fill jobs. Therefore, it is the responsibility of these companies to follow the laws while recruiting, hiring and placing workers in the premises.

Labor experts are of the view that U.S. labor shortage crisis may increase the risk that children may end up at workplaces.

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