A report of Reuters claims that Smart Alabama LLC, a metal stamping plant and subsidiary of Hyundai, used child labor in its plant. The allegations are believed to be supported by current and former employees of the company, as well as the parents of three children involved and local police.
Reuters became aware of the possibility of underage workers in February when a 13-year-old Guatemalan migrant briefly disappeared from her home in Enterprise, Alabama. In an interview with the family, it was revealed that she and two brothers, ages 12 and 15, worked at the plant in early 2022. Company police informed the Alabama Attorney General’s Office of the situation, although it is unclear if an official investigation is underway. Located approximately 50 miles from Smart Alabama’s facilities, Enterprise Police does not have jurisdiction to investigate labor law violations.
Interviews with current and former Smart Alabama LLC employees revealed that up to 50 underage workers were at the plant on various shifts, according to Reuters. Alabama labor laws require factory workers to be at least 18 years old. There is no mention of salaries in the report.
Smart Alabama LLC manufactures parts used at Hyundai’s large manufacturing plant in nearby Montgomery. The facility assembles the Elantra, Santa Fe, Tucson and Santa Cruz. Hyundai lists the company as a majority-owned unit in company filings.
Motor1.com contacted Hyundai regarding this situation. A company spokesperson issued the following statement:
“Hyundai 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.”
Several attempts to reach Smart Alabama LLC officials by phone and email were unsuccessful. In a statement reported by Reuters, Smart Alabama LLC “denies any allegations that it knowingly employed anyone ineligible for employment.”
This is not the only problem regarding potential illegal work in the company. A lawsuit listed on ClassAction.org filed March 27 alleges that Smart Alabama LLC cheated the U.S. immigration system for years, hiring Mexican workers at below-average wages and discriminating against them American employees.