Alabamans fuming after Hyundai supplier they incentivized is accused of 'oppressive child labor'
Three Chlidren playing with blocks (Shutterstock www.shutterstock.com)

A company that sells parts for Hyundai has been the second one accused of hiring minors in Alabama by the Department of Labor – and leaders in the town where its located are demanding an apology.

SL Alabama, the largest employer in Alexander City, Ala., with more than 600 workers, was accused of “employing oppressive child labor” in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to a six-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, Al.com reports.

“That means the company is accused of employing children under the age of 16. The complaint gave no specifics regarding the charge,” Al.com reported.

Negotiations are underway between the company and Labor Department.

“According to court records, SL Alabama has offered a proposed settlement where it agreed to not hire underage workers, verify the ages of workers hired through a staffing agency and to fire or discipline any managers aware of the use of underage workers, reports the Outlook, Alexander City’s local newspaper.

“The proposed settlement hasn’t been approved by federal courts.”

Alexander City Mayor Woody Baird issued a joint statement with local economic development officials condemning the company’s actions and reminding it of the help it got when locating there in 2003, according to the Outlook.

“The reported acts in the Department of Labor’s complaint are egregious and unconscionable and demonstrate an utter disregard for the good faith support of all entities who worked to bring SL Alabama to the Lake Martin area. These actions unfairly tarnish the reputations of those who provided incentives to support SL Alabama, leaving SL a daunting task ahead to rebuild the relationships readily granted them and which they intentionally worked to undermine.”

The scandal comes on the heels of another accusation involving a Hyundai supplier in Alabama.

Reuters reported that children as young as 12 have been recently employed at SMART Alabama in Luverne, which has supplied parts for Hyundai’s Montgomery plant since 2003, Al.com reported. This led to a class action lawsuit against Hyundai filed in California following the Reuters report. The U.S. Department of Labor and and the Alabama Department of Labor are investigating the story.

SL Alabama opened in 2003 and manufactures headlights, rear combination lights, and side mirrors for the automaker.