MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A California woman filed a lawsuit against Hyundai Motor Company after reports came out that SMART Alabama LLC, a Hyundai Motor Company subsidiary, had used children as young as 12 at a plant in Luverne, Ala. SMART Alabama supplies parts for Hyundai’s Montgomery plant.
According to court documents, Lea Reis of California filed the suit on July 28 on behalf of current and former Hyundai owners and lessees. The suit claims Reis and other Hyundai drivers were harmed by the use of child labor in producing their vehicles.
The original report from Reuters said the number of children workers was unknown but at least three have been confirmed. In that reporting, former and current employees of SMART told Reuters that the three children were part of a larger group of as many as 50 underage workers.
The lawsuit claims the SMART plant has a history of health and safety violations, some of which include amputation hazards. Reis’ lawyers said these violations make it unsafe for anyone under the age of 18 to work in the Hyundai factory.
According to the lawsuit, SMART complained about a labor shortage in late 2020. In the lawsuit, Reis said she believes that in order to overcome the labor shortage, the company illegally hired underaged workers.