Minnesota Imposes $300,000 Fine on Tony Downs Food Company for Child Labor Violations

In a recent development, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) has imposed a substantial fine of $300,000 on Tony Downs Food Company in Madelia, Minnesota. This penalty comes after a thorough investigation by the DLI uncovered that the company had employed at least eight minors, aged 14 to 17, to operate meat-processing equipment, a violation of state child labor laws that prohibit minors from engaging in hazardous roles.

The DLI’s audit, conducted from January 26, 2021, to January 26, 2023, revealed clear violations of child labor regulations by the meat processor. In response to these findings, DLI took swift action by conducting an overnight on-site inspection at Tony Downs. To address the illegal employment of minors in hazardous occupations, DLI sought a temporary restraining order and injunction from the district court, which was granted on March 15. This legal action aimed to halt further violations while DLI continued its inquiry into the company’s labor practices.

DLI Commissioner Nicole Blissenbach underscored the seriousness of child labor violations and reiterated DLI’s unwavering commitment to combating them. She emphasized DLI’s strategic enforcement of the Minnesota Child Labor Standards Act and noted that Tony Downs Food Company had agreed to implement significant measures to prevent future child labor violations. Blissenbach also urged all employers to provide training to recognize potential child labor violations and to ensure compliance with both state and federal laws.

In a significant development, the Fifth District Court in Watonwan County, Minnesota, issued a consent order on Friday. Under this order, Tony Downs pledged full compliance with the Minnesota Child Labor Standards Act and agreed to pay the $300,000 in administrative penalties.

The consent order also outlines specific conditions that must be adhered to over a three-year period to ensure compliance with the Minnesota Child Labor Standards Act. These conditions include hiring a third-party compliance specialist, effectively communicating policies and procedures, promptly reporting any child labor violations, and regularly providing DLI with reports detailing the steps taken to adhere to the consent order. This comprehensive agreement seeks to prevent future violations and promote a safe and compliant work environment for all employees, particularly minors.