The U.S. Department of Labor filed a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against a sanitation company on Thursday, alleging that the company attempted to interfere with an investigation into reports claiming the service used child labor.
An investigation by Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh found that Packers Sanitation Services, a company that provides cleaning to various plants in midwestern states, employed children under the age of 16 to work overnight shifts.
“The Secretary’s investigators interviewed children who reported working for Packers Sanitation under the age of 16,” wrote the Labor Department in its motion. “Some children reported working long hours or overnight shifts. Other children reported working on power-driven machines or on the kill floor.”
U.S. District Judge John Gerrard granted a temporary injunction on Thursday, ordering the sanitation company and any partners to comply with investigators and refrain from concealing relevant evidence until a Nov. 23 hearing.
“The Court has little difficulty concluding that any ongoing use of child labor constitutes irreparable harm to the children involved,” wrote Gerrard. “And, although the evidence of spoliation is not as strong as that of the underlying violations of labor law, the Court also finds a threat of irreparable harm associated with interference with the Secretary’s investigation.”
The Labor Department claimed that evidence collected in its investigation suggests that Packers Sanitation may have tried to interfere with the probe.
“Packers Sanitation employees attempted to prevent investigators from gathering evidence pursuant to search warrants, attempted to prevent investigators from interviewing employees, and may have spoliated evidence,” the department wrote in its injunction request.