Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Announcing 2023’s Worst Employer

The votes have been counted. The WINNER of The Worst Employer of 2023 is...

🏆 The Child Labor Abuser 🏆

It's a well-earned victory, as the details are just plain awful.

According to the Department of Labor, Packers Sanitation Services — the country's largest food safety sanitation company — employed at least 102 children between 13 and 17 in age in hazardous occupations in meat processing facilities across eight states.

The dangerous conditions to which Packers exposed the children included working with hazardous chemicals and cleaning meat processing equipment including back saws, brisket saws, and head splitters. At least three of the children suffered injuries while illegally working for Packers. Compounded the harm is that according to 60 Minutes, most if not all of these child workers are illegal immigrants or the children of illegal immigrants, working to support their families.

According to Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Michael Lazzeri, "Our investigation found Packers Sanitation Services' systems flagged some young workers as minors, but the company ignored the flags. When the Wage and Hour Division arrived with warrants, the adults — who had recruited, hired, and supervised these children — tried to derail our efforts to investigate their employment practices." NBC News reports that when Packer learned of the investigation, employees tried to hide evidence of the child labor violations by deleting digital messages.

Adds Principal Deputy Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division Jessica Looman, "The child labor violations in this case were systemic … and clearly indicate a corporate-wide failure by Packers Sanitation Services at all levels. These children should never have been employed in meat packing plants and this can only happen when employers do not take responsibility to prevent child labor violations from occurring in the first place."

Shannon Rebolledo, the DOL employee who led this investigation, told NBC News that she had "never seen child labor violations to this extent," and further that she "never had an employer or their representative impede my investigation like this just so brazenly."

In other words, this is quite the deserving victory.

A huge thank you to everyone who sent me nominees throughout the year, and to all of you who voted.

That's a wrap on 2023's contest. For those employers that did not win this year, remember, there are no real winners, because at the end of the day you're all losers.

I'll be back in a few weeks to start compiling 2024's list of worst employers … and the first nominee will be a doozy.

Finally, if you're making a new year's resolution, a good one is to learn from all of the prior nominees and to stay off my list.