One of the country’s biggest chicken suppliers has routinely hired undocumented immigrants and then used their status to pressure them into staying silent about life-altering injuries and workplace abuse, a ProPublica and New Yorker investigation found.
Case Farms, which produces nearly a billion annual pounds of chicken for both mega-chains such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and for federal lunch programs, hired Guatemalan asylum-seeker Osiel López Pérez when he was just 17 years old.
After Pérez lost his leg while sanitizing the giblet chiller, the company asked for his immigration papers — and then promptly fired him along with several other underage and undocumented employees, according to the investigation.
The head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration once called Case Farms “an outrageously dangerous place to work.” Federal safety inspectors have cited the company for hundreds of violations and fined them millions of dollars.
But Case Farms continues to operate. They have recently begun recruiting workers from a local prison, Michael Grabell reported for ProPublica, and are looking to replace line workers with robots.
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