(ConservativeInsider.org) – Duvan Pérez, a 16-year-old, tragically lost his life due to mishandling machinery at a Mississippi poultry plant. Shockingly, Pérez had secured the job by falsely presenting himself as a 32-year-old, exposing a concerning trend of migrant children finding employment in hazardous industries and the challenges companies face in verifying their ages in America.
Minors are forbidden from working in slaughterhouses, classified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as some of the most hazardous workplaces in the country.
Pérez, employed for cleanup at Mar-Jac Poultry in Hattiesburg, a supplier to companies like Chick-fil-A, passed away on July 14. Within hours of his death, a local Facebook news site raised questions about his actual age, revealing him to be 16.
The Labor Department reports a significant increase in the number of children working illegally across all industries, almost doubling since 2019. Currently, the agency conducts over 700 child labor investigations across several sectors in over 40 states in the United States.
NBC News conducted a yearlong investigation on child labor in America through their new documentary, “Slaughterhouse Children.” Mar-Jac confirmed to the media outlet that Perez had used the identity of a man in his 30s.
Upon seeing a picture of the 16-year-old, Mar-Jac’s attorney, Larry Stine, remarked that Pérez didn’t appear to be a 32-year-old man. Stine said that Pérez might have looked 18; meanwhile, Mar-Jac blamed the hiring of the teenager on the staffing company that provides workers to the plant.
When asked if the company was surprised by Pérez being 16, Stine replied, “Yes, they were really shocked, that I am very certain.”
Although Pérez’s family did not comment on his use of an adult’s identity in response to a request for comments on the death of their son, the Labor Department asserts that companies are responsible for ensuring that workers they hire are legally eligible for the job.
Following Pérez’s demise, the state Labor Department launched an investigation into Mar-Jac’s hiring of a teenager and another OSHA-related investigation into the accident. Both investigations are ongoing.
Pérez was the second person to die in the past two years after becoming entangled in equipment at the plant.
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