An investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division has discovered that three poultry processing facilities have been violating child labor laws. In addition, the companies failed to pay overtime, were retaliating against workers, and were obstructing a federal investigation. The facilities, which are owned and operated by Tony Elvis Bran and The Exclusive Poultry Inc., received a preliminary injunction from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California for their rampant use of child labor. In the facilities, minors used knives to debone and cut poultry. These children were also working longer and at times not permitted by the law. In addition, the facilities failed to pay overtime, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and threatened workers who cooperated with the investigation or tried to exercise their rights.
Tony Elvis Bran, Karen Rios, Juan Valtierra, Javier Meza, and Jacqueline Garcia operated The Exclusive Poultry Inc., Valtierra Poultry LLC and Meza Poultry LLC. The companies were cited for violations related to wage payments, child labor, recordkeeping, retaliation against employees and obstruction of a federal investigation.
In a recent quote, Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez said, “Tony Elvis Bran and his associates directed young workers — including employees under age 16 — to work full time and not go to school and to engage in dangerous jobs, including deboning poultry in meat coolers. These employers endangered children, stole their wages and threatened them with retaliation if they spoke to investigators about their illegal activity.”