16-year-old killed at Mississippi plant ‘should not have been hired’

Published 10:51 pm Thursday, July 20, 2023

The poultry production facility where an underage employee died last week issued an official statement, claiming the minor was hired by a staffing company and should never have been allowed to join the staff.

Mar-Jac Poultry MS, LLC’s statement said the company is cooperating fully with an Occupational Health Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation at the Hattiesburg plant.

The victim was identified as 16-year-old Duvan Pérez.

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“This tragedy was compounded when we learned that the victim was a minor,” the letter reads. “Due to an unprecedentedly labor market Mar-Jac MS relies on staffing companies to fill positions at its facility. These companies’ contracts with Mar-Jac MS require them to verify that every applicant is legally qualified to work before they start any job. This includes verifying their identity (including age) and immigration status using the I-9 form prescribed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and through the government’s E-Verify system. Mar-Jac MS relies on these companies to complete these checks and it is a condition of their contracts with Mar-Jac MS that they do so for every job applicant, without exception.”

According to the statement, employees are required to be at least 18 years old “and should not have been hired.”

“Mar-Jac MS would never knowingly put any employee, and certainly not a minor, in harm’s way but it appears, at this point in the investigation, that this individual’s age and identity were misrepresented on the paperwork.”