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New child labour accusations against polygamous company

September 27, 2017 - 2:59 PM

SALT LAKE CITY - A company with ties to the polygamous community on the Utah-Arizona border that was found guilty of violating child labour laws changed its name and put children to work again, the U.S. Department of Labor said.

Federal prosecutors said in a court filing Monday that Paragon Contractors changed its name to Par 2 and used underage workers for construction jobs across the West in 2015-2016. Prosecutors want the company found in contempt for violating sanctions levelled in past child labour cases.

Attorneys for the company didn't immediately respond to request for comment.

Prosecutors say Paragon executive Brian Jessop tried to conceal his involvement in the renamed company, even altering documents. They say Jessop also failed to report the company's work and dates of birth of employees to an independent monitor assigned after the company was previously found guilty of child labour violations.

In a sharply worded order, U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell last year found that Paragon sent kids as young as 6 to the 2012 pecan harvest, sometimes with little food and few bathroom breaks.

Paragon's attorneys said the children were glad to get a break from schoolwork to gather nuts for the needy.

As part of the punishment, Paragon agreed to pay $200,000 for back wages to children who picked pecans for long hours in the cold in 2012. The company also agreed to pay a $15,000 retainer and $300 an hour to an independent attorney who will monitor the business for five years.

The government is asking the judge to add more rigorous monitoring and reporting requirements and expand the requirements for the new company, Par 2.

The Salt Lake Tribune first reported the new accusations.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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