Meat processor pleads guilty to illegally employing minor who lost hand on the job
Published 12:00 pm Sunday, July 2, 2023
LANSING — Darin Wilbur, 55, of Saranac, has pled guilty to one count of employing a minor in a dangerous profession after an on-the-job accident resulted in the minor losing his hand in a meat grinder, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced.
The 17-year-old illegal employee suffered the amputation of his right hand by a meat grinder while working for US Guys Processing, an Ionia County meat processing company, on November 19, 2019. Wilbur was the company’s owner. The minor was operating the meat grinder under Wilbur’s supervision. During the course of processing, the minor’s hand was pulled into the grinder.
Soon thereafter, the Michigan Wage and Hour Division received a referral about a serious injury to a minor. The Division investigated and determined that the minor was illegally employed under the Youth Employment Standards Act, MCL 409.101 et seq. In addition to employing the minor in hazardous work, Wilbur did not ensure that the minor obtained a work permit, as is required for employing individuals under the age of 18 in Michigan. The Division’s findings were submitted to the Department of Attorney General to pursue criminal charges.
Nessel encourages the legislature to re-evaluate the fines for employing minors without the requisite permits, as well as the current statues and penalties surrounding employing minors in hazardous occupations, which is currently a misdemeanor.
“Our labor laws were written to protect children from dangerous workplaces; however, they lack the teeth needed to properly hold bad employers accountable for violations,” said Nessel. “This case highlights the need to strengthen these protections, as well as the consequences for violations, and I look forward to working with the legislature on this critical work to protect the state’s youth.”
The judge has ordered a pre-sentencing investigation prior to sentencing. A sentencing date has not yet been set.