The Department of Labor (DOL) ordered Tennessee-based Tuff Torq Corp. to pay nearly $1.8 million over alleged child labor violations.

The DOL’s Office of the Solicitor secured a federal consent judgment mandating the power equipment manufacturing company cease its illegal employment of children, adhere to federal child labor laws, and pay a nearly $300,000 penalty and $1.5 million in disgorgement, the agency announced in a press release Monday.

The action, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee on Friday, addressed Tuff Torq’s employment of 10 children subjected to oppressive child labor, the DOL said. Tuff Torq supplies major companies including John Deere, Toro, and Yamaha.

The details: A DOL probe initiated months ago culminated in evidence of illegal conduct on Jan. 23, when a child was observed operating a power-driven hoisting apparatus, a task prohibited for individuals under 18 years old.

As part of the consent decree, Tuff Torq committed to measures including contracting with a community-based organization for staff training and establishing an anonymous tip line for reporting potential child labor violations.

In fiscal year 2023, the DOL investigated 955 cases of child labor violations involving nearly 5,800 children nationwide, with more than $8 million assessed in penalties for alleged violations.

Company response: In an emailed statement, a Tuff Torq spokesperson noted temporary workforce employees were placed at the company by a staffing agency and that the manufacturer “did not directly hire and employ the individuals.”

The temporary employees identified as child labor violations “utilized fake names and credentials in the staffing agency hiring process,” the spokesperson said.

“Tuff Torq is dedicated to ensuring that their products and services are produced under ethical conditions, with a strong emphasis on fair labor practices, and Tuff Torq is further strengthening our relevant training and compliance programs,” the spokesperson said. “We are also actively engaging with our suppliers to reinforce our expectations regarding ethical labor practices and collaborate with them on implementing our updated policies.”