GRAND ISLAND, Neb.-- Cleaning company PSSI and meatpacking giant JBS are commenting after allegations of illegally employing minor children.

A lawsuit filed by the Department of Labor in Nebraska Federal Court accuses PSSI of putting children between the ages of 13 and 17 to work in very hazardous work situations. These children, according to the court filing, have been working overnight cleaning shifts at the JBS meat packing plant in Grand Island and two plants in Minnesota.

PSSI says it is surprised about the action taken by the DOL and issued this statement. 

“PSSI has an absolute company-wide prohibition against the employment of anyone under the age of 18 and zero tolerance for any violation of that policy -- period.

PSSI has industry-leading, best-in-class procedures to confirm the identities of its employees -- including mandatory use of the Government's E-verify system for new hires, as well as extensive training, document verification, biometrics, and multiple layers of audits.  While rogue individuals could of course seek to engage in fraud or identity theft, we are confident in our company's strict compliance policies and will defend ourselves vigorously against these claims.

We are also surprised the DOL has taken this action given PSSI’s Corporate office has been cooperating with their inquiry, producing extensive documents and responses. PSSI also worked with the DOL recently and successfully completed multiple audits with the agency that found no issues.  PSSI will continue to cooperate with the DOL and will continue to enforce its absolute prohibition against employing anyone under the age of 18."

JBS Chief Ethics and compliance officer Michael Koening also commented on the allegations that their meatpacking company has been employing children.

“We take seriously the allegations against PSSI, which, if true, represent a clear violation of our ethical policies. When this was brought to our attention, we immediately engaged an independent, third-party to audit sanitation providers at all of our facilities. In addition, we have put in place interim measures to confirm the status of all sanitation personnel at our facilities. Finally, we are assessing all options in connection with the provision of sanitation services for our Grand Island, Neb., and Worthington, Minn., facilities. 

JBS has zero tolerance for child labor, discrimination or unsafe working conditions for anyone working in our facilities. We expect and contractually require our vendors to adhere to the highest ethical principles as outlined in our Business Associate Code of Conduct.”