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Ionia Meat Processor Sentenced After Pleading Guilty to Illegally Employing Minor

LANSING Darin Wilbur, 55, was sentenced today to fines and costs of $1,143 after pleading guilty to employing a minor in a dangerous profession, which 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. The minor was operating the meat grinder under the supervision of Wilbur, the owner of the company. 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. 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.

“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 at the time of Wilbur’s plea. “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.”

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 presently a misdemeanor.

Ionia District Court Judge Raymond Voet presided over the sentencing.


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