Tony Downs Food Company, based in Mankato, has also agreed to comply with child labor regulations.
Mankato-based Tony Downs Food Company also agreed to comply with child labor regulations and hire a compliance specialist as part of a consent order with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.
“In this case, Tony Downs agreed to take important steps to prevent child labor violations,” said Department Commissioner Nicole Blissenbach in a statement.
“All employers must train their employees to help identify potential child labor violations and take steps to ensure they are not employing minors in violation of state laws and federal.”
The agency noted that the meat processing company employed at least eight minors between the ages of 14 and 17 at its plant in Madelia. Investigators also identified three other employees who were hired before they turned 18, according to the department.
The minor employees, one of whom was 13 when he was hired, operate meat grinders, ovens and forklifts during night shifts and also work where products are deep-frozen in carbon monoxide and ammonia, according to the complaint. The men also allegedly worked longer shifts than allowed by law and some suffered injuries.
Tony Downs “disclaims and does not admit that he has committed violations of the aforementioned law” with the Department of Labor, according to the agreement.
The Tony Downs investigation began after the Minnesota Department of Labor received a complaint about working conditions at the Madelia plant, the complaint said.
Investigators conducted night inspections on January 26 and 27, interviewing workers, documenting working conditions and contacting area school districts. The company delivered files to employees hired up to January in the period.