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Iowa meat packer faces child labor law charges

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Iowa attorney general’s office filed a criminal complaint against a kosher meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa, on Tuesday, alleging the company violated several state child labor laws.

The lawsuit accuses Agriprocessors Inc of violating child labor laws such as illegally employing minors at a meat processing or rendering plant and exposing minors to dangerous chemicals, the attorney general’s office said in a release.

Other charges include employing persons under age 16 for more hours per day and more days per week than the law allows, and employing persons under age 16 in positions that involve operating power machinery.

The violations dated from September 2007 to early-May 2008, when U.S. immigration agents arrested 389 people at the plant on charges of identity theft and using false identification to gain employment. The alleged child labor abuses involve 32 employees under age 18, of which seven were under age 16.

The lawsuit names the owner of Agriprocessors Inc and several plant managers as defendants. They face jail time and fines for each of the 9,311 simple misdemeanor violations and are due in court on September 17.

Reporting by Karl Plume; editing by Lisa Shumaker