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Company claims FLDS children used in harvest weren’t employees

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An image by CNN of the 2012 pecan harvest in southern Utah where hundreds of FLDS children were put to work in what federal authorities claim was a violation of child labor laws.

SALT LAKE CITY — In a new court filing, a company accused of using hundreds of Fundamentalist LDS children to pick pecans on a southern Utah farm claims they weren’t employees.

Paragon Contractors filed papers in federal court, arguing that it should not face sanctions for violating child labor laws.

“It did not have the power to hire or fire any of the individuals, and could not have supervised or controlled work schedules or conditions of employment. Nor could Paragon have assigned them to perform additional work projects for Paragon. Although none of the family members, including the minors, were paid cash for their services, the FLDS family members did keep half of the nut residue that they collected,” Paragon attorney Rick Sutherland wrote in the motion.

The company also claims that the children were supervised by their parents and worked outside of school hours.

The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking contempt sanctions against the company and FLDS leaders over the 2012 pecan harvest, arguing it violates a court order regarding a similar child labor violation. Federal government lawyers have claimed FLDS leaders ordered the children put to work.

More arguments in the case are scheduled for January.

Read the court filing here:

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