A welcome sign stands next to the SMART Alabama, LLC auto parts plant in LuverneJoshua Schneyer /REUTERS
  • According to Reuters, children as young as 12 were reported to be working in a factory in Alabama.
  • The report comes after the disappearance of a migrant girl who worked at the plant.
  • A former employee told Reuters that to keep up with high demand, the factory would rely on migrant workers.

Underage workers have been reportedly working at a Hyundai-owned supply factory in Alabama, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

Children as young as 12 worked at the SMART metal stamping plant in Luverne, Alabama, which supplies parts for the Hyundai assembly line in nearby Montgomery, according to Reuters.

The news outlet said it learned of child labor following the brief disappearance of a Guatemalan migrant from her family’s home in Alabama in February.

Pedro Tzi, the father of the soon-to-be 14-year-old girl, confirmed with Reuters that she and her two brothers, aged 12 and 15, were not attending school and working at the plant.

According to reports by Reuters, Tzi children were among a larger group of minors working at the plant, adding that several of them have abandoned schooling to work long shifts at the plant.

Many of the minors at the plant were hired through recruitment agencies, according to current and former SMART workers and local labor recruiters who spoke to Reuters.

Tabatha Moultry, 39, a former SMART employee, told Reuters that the plant relied on migrant workers to keep up with high demand and remembered working with a migrant girl who “looked 11 or 12 years old.”

“She was way too young to be working in that plant, or any plant,” Moutry told Reuters.

Another former employee told Reuters that they were around 50 underaged workers working at the facility.

In a statement to Reuters, Hyundai said it “does not tolerate illegal employment practices at any Hyundai entity. We have policies and procedures in place that require compliance with all local, state, and federal laws.”

In a separate statement, SMART told Reuters the factory “denies any allegation that it knowingly employed anyone who is ineligible for employment,” adding that it requires “these agencies to follow the law in recruiting, hiring, and placing workers on its premises.”

“All that is over now,” the father told Reuters “The kids aren’t working, and in fall, they will be in school.”

SMART did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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