A subsidiary of Hyundai used child labor at its flagship factory in Montgomery, Alabama, according to a report from Reuters. The news outlet spoke to the family of three underage workers, plus eight former and current employees of the factory.
Reuters reported that a metal stamping plant operating by SMART Alabama LLC was using workers as young as 12.
SMART denied the claims, telling Reuters that it “denies any allegation that it knowingly employed anyone who is ineligible for employment.” The company explained that it uses staffing agencies and expects them “to follow the law in recruiting, hiring, and placing workers on its premises.”
One former employee claimed they knew of at least 50 underage people who worked at the plant and said they knew some of the children personally. Tabatha Moultry, 39, who worked at the SMART plant until 2019, said she saw one girl who “looked 11 or 12 years old” that would come to work with her mother.
When Moultry asked the girl her age, she said she was just 13.
“She was way too young to be working in that plant, or any plant,” Moultry said.
Hyundai has not commented on the allegations.
“Consumers should be outraged,” David Michaels, the former U.S. assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, told Reuters after reading their report.
“They should know that these cars are being built, at least in part, by workers who are children and need to be in school rather than risking life and limb because their families are desperate for income,” he added.