December 6, 2023


California, US poultry supplier to pay nearly US$3.8 million for child labour violations


The Exclusive Poultry Inc, a southern California, United States poultry supplier, is set to pay nearly US$3.8 million in back wages, damages, and penalties after employing children as young as 14 years old to perform hazardous tasks involving power-driven lifts and sharp knives for deboning chickens, Los Angeles Daily News reported.


The US Department of Labour's Wage and Hour Division conducted investigations into The Exclusive Poultry and its affiliated companies, discovering reckless endangerment of young workers. The poultry processing plants, located in La Puente and the city of Industry, supplied meat to various supermarkets and distributors, including Ralphs, Aldi, Grocery Outlet, and SYSCO Corp.


Established by owner Tony Bran, Exclusive Poultry utilised multiple "front" companies, such as Meza Poultry LLC, Valtierra Poultry LLC, Sullon Poultry Inc, and Nollus's Poultry LLC, to employ workers at its facilities. The judgment impacts 437 employees who were either underpaid or subjected to child labour law violations.


Labour investigators revealed that children employed by the company often worked excessive hours, breaching federal child labour regulations. Exclusive Poultry allegedly retaliated against workers cooperating with the investigation by reducing their wages.


The US District Court for the Central District of California recently issued a consent judgment against Exclusive Poultry and Tony Bran. The investigation spanned from August 1, 2020, to October 2023, exposing practices where employees were paid a flat hourly rate even though they worked 50 to 60 hours per week. Some workers were intentionally excluded from payroll records.


The judgment mandates Exclusive Poultry and Bran to pay US$3.5 million in back wages and damages, including US$300,000 in punitive damages and US$100,614 in back wages. Additionally, they face US$201,104 in civil penalties for child labour and wilful violations.


Ruben Rosalez, the Wage and Hour Division's regional administrator in San Francisco, condemned the employers for endangering children, withholding wages, and threatening retaliation against those exposing illegal activities. As part of the resolution, Bran and Exclusive Poultry must retain a monitor for three years to ensure compliance and prioritize rehiring workers terminated after the department's investigation. The US District Court also issued an injunction preventing the shipment of "hot goods," poultry products produced in violation of overtime and child labour laws.


-      Los Angeles Daily News

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