Mormon church leaders being fined for $1.9 million by DOL
Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor took administrative action against FDLS church members Dale Barlow and Brian Jessop, as well as Paragon Contractors Corp, who allegedly used children under the age of 13 to pick pecans uncompensated, The Hill reports.
The agency wage and hour division conducted a multi-year investigation into one of the largest fundamentalist churches in the area and found that between 2012-2013 the church had illegally hired children from Southern Utah and Northern Arizona to harvest pecans meant for commercial sale.
The FDLS leaders are also accused of closing down local schools in Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz. because schooling interfered with the pecan harvest.
The DOL also filed a contempt of court action against FLDS Church Bishop Lyle Jeffs and Barlow for violating an order from back in 2007 to stop violating child labor laws. The department is also suing to collect back pay, to compensate workers fairly.
The department found that the church had illegally hired 1,400 adults and children to harvest pecans — all of whom were unpaid, and of whom at least 175 were children under the age of 13 — a major no-no tantamount to slave and child labor.
David Weil, administrator of DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, said:
For years, these employers have trampled on the rights of workers, both children and adults, and violated our child labor laws forcing minors to work for them. Such disregard for the rights of all workers, especially children, will not be tolerated.
Perhaps, if these Mormon church leaders can find a line of scripture from their Book of Mormon justifying child labor, the fundamentalists can counter-sue the government for violating their religious beliefs just like Rowan County Clerk,Kim Davis did when she decided she didn’t want to follow U.S. laws.
Featured Image via PBS