Dozens of minors are reported to work at the Hyundai-owned Alabama plant
- According to Reuters, children as young as 12 were reportedly working in a factory in Alabama.
- The report comes after the disappearance of an immigrant girl who used to work in the factory.
- To keep up with high demand, the factory will rely on migrant workers, a former employee told Reuters.
A Reuters report on Friday said underage workers work at a Hyundai-owned supply plant in Alabama.
Children as young as 12 work at the SMART Metal Stamping Plant in Luverne, Alabama, which provides parts for Hyundai’s assembly line in nearby Montgomery, according to Reuters.
The news agency said it learned of child labor after the brief disappearance of a Guatemalan immigrant from her family’s home in Alabama in February.
Pedro Tze, the father of the soon-to-be 14-year-old girl, confirmed to Reuters that she and her two brothers, 12 and 15, do not go to school and work in the factory.
According to Reuters reports, Tze’s children were among a larger group of minors working at the factory, adding that many of them had dropped out of school to work long shifts at the factory.
Many of the factory’s minors were employed through recruitment agencies, according to current and former SMART workers and local labor recruitment agents who spoke to Reuters.
Tabatha Dawgen, 39, a former employee at Smart, told Reuters the factory relies on migrant workers to keep up with high demand and recalled working with a migrant girl who “looked like 11 or 12 years old.”
“She was too young to work in that factory or any factory,” Matari told Reuters.
Another former employee told Reuters that about 50 underage workers work at the facility.
Hyundai said in a statement to Reuters that 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.”
In a separate statement, Smart told Reuters that the factory “denies any allegations that it knowingly employed any person unfit to employ,” adding that it required “these agencies to follow the law in hiring, hiring and placing workers in its facilities.”
“It is all over now. The children are not working and in the fall they will be at school,” the father told Reuters.
SMART did not immediately respond to an Insider’s request for comment.