On Monday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) accused an auto parts supplier for Hyundai Motor Co. of violating federal child labor laws at an Alexander City factory.

The DOL claims that SL Alabama LLC, a subsidiary of South Korea's SL Corp, employed underage workers at the plant, which makes headlights, rear combination lights and side mirrors.

According to the DOL lawsuit, SL Alabama employed "minors under the age of 16" and engaged in "oppressive child labor."

No details have been forthcoming about the nature of the "oppressive child labor," and SL Alabama did not immediately respond to inquiries from 1819 News.

This is the second instance of child labor reported in an Alabama-based manufacturer.

In July, a Reuters report claimed that SMART, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company, which manufactures stamped metal for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA), had also violated child labor laws.

According to the report, three children of Guatemalan migrants, ages 12, 13 and 15, had worked at the facility in Luverne. The family lived in Enterprise, and the children were not enrolled in school. 

The allegations came after one of the children briefly disappeared from the family's home.

SMART released a statement following the Reuters report, saying, "SMART Alabama, LLC has a longstanding policy that requires compliance with all federal, state, and local laws," a statement from the company attributed to Gary Sport, general manager of SMART, said. "SMART denies any allegation that it knowingly employed anyone who is ineligible for employment under these laws. SMART finds the act of human trafficking and the exploitation of vulnerable populations tragic."

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email craig.monger@1819news.com.

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