Immigrant children as young as 14 found working illegally at Tennessee firm, fined nearly $300,000.

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Immigrant children as young as 14 were found working illegally amid dangerous heavy equipment at a Tennessee firm that makes parts for lawn mowers sold by John Deere and other companies, according to Labor Department officials.

The company, Tuff Torq, was fined nearly $300,000 for hiring 10 children. As part of a consent agreement with the federal government, the company is also required to set aside $1.5 million to help the children who were illegally employed. Ryan Pott, general counsel for Tuff Torq’s majority owner, the Japanese firm Yanmar, acknowledged the violations to NBC News.

“The department will not tolerate companies profiting on the backs of children employed unlawfully in dangerous occupations,” said Seema Nanda, the department’s chief legal officer, whose office obtained the consent judgment against Tuff Torq. “Tuff Torq has agreed to disgorge profits, which will go to the benefit of the children. This sends a clear message: putting children in harm’s way in the workplace is not only illegal, but also comes with significant financial consequences.”

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