Atlas Chemical’s China operations were raided by the Department of Commerce’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) for violations of child workers’ laws.
The OSHA complaint, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), alleges that Atlas Chemical employees were forced to work long hours, had to work with no breaks and were exposed to dangerous chemicals.
The company is accused of forcing workers to work at temperatures below freezing, with no air conditioning or ventilation.
The complaint also accuses the company of hiring people to perform hazardous tasks, including welding, that were not properly approved by the company.
The lawsuit claims the company has a history of employing children, including one of the employees in this video, who reportedly suffered a heart attack in 2015.
Atlas Chemical is not the only chemical company to face accusations of child work.
Last year, the company was named in a civil suit filed by an Arizona woman who claimed she was forced to hand over her children to a father-in-law to work on the company’s processing plant.
That case, filed in federal court in Phoenix, is also being heard by the Occupation Safety and Discharge Investigation Board (OSDEB), which has jurisdiction over workplace safety issues.
OSDEB spokesperson Andrea Gullion said the board is not considering the complaint at this time.
“OSDEBs decision to file a lawsuit is not a decision on the merits of the complaint, but on whether the OSDEBs findings support OSHA’s position on the legality of the company and its workforce,” Gullions said in an email.
“The OSDEs complaint does not seek monetary damages for any harm that the plaintiff may have suffered.
The allegations in the complaint are not substantiated and are based on information provided by a third party.”
Atlas Chemical also faces a civil lawsuit in Texas, which alleges that employees at its Houston plant were pressured to work more than 70 hours a week to achieve maximum productivity.
The federal lawsuit alleges that in 2015, Atlas Chemical hired five men to work overtime hours.
A worker who worked on the plant’s processing line for two years claimed that in addition to his work schedule, Atlas hired five workers to carry out the work, as well as the plant supervisor and two other employees.
The employee said he was told to work in shifts of 20 hours a day and was told his overtime hours would be cut if he didn’t increase his productivity.
“If you work 40 hours a night, you’re not going to get paid,” the worker said in the lawsuit.
“You don’t have to be a great worker, you don’t need to be an amazing worker, just be productive.
If you’re going to be paid, you need to work harder.”
Atlas chemical declined to comment for this story.
The American Civil Rights Union is also pursuing a lawsuit against Atlas Chemical, accusing it of paying workers less than the minimum wage in order to recruit them.
The ACLU’s lawsuit seeks to ensure that companies that employ children and other vulnerable workers do not pay workers below the federal minimum wage for work done without authorization.
The organization’s president, Anthony Romero, said in a statement that the OSHA lawsuit “is a direct attack on the American worker, on the basic protections afforded by our laws.”
Romero said that while the OSHAB is not ruling on the suit’s merits, the “OSHA’s investigation shows Atlas Chemical paid workers less for work that they performed than workers in comparable industries in the United States.”
Atlas Chem’s U.S. headquarters is in Houston.
Atlas is also a member of the Chemical Industries Association of America, a trade group for chemical manufacturers.
The chemical industry has faced multiple investigations into allegations of child working since the 1990s.
The industry is still fighting for the right to use children and others under age 15 as a form of labor.
In June, a group of child welfare experts and labor experts called on the Department on Children and Families to investigate Atlas Chemical over allegations of using child workers in its China operations.
The group also called on President Donald Trump to take the company to court over child labor allegations.