The New York State Department of Labor says it has found "multiple violations" involving children after an Inside Edition investigation exposed child labor at an upstate commune.
In an undercover report that aired last week, Inside Edition found children working in a factory overseen by a religious sect called the Twelve Tribes in Cambridge, N.Y. The youngsters were packaging high-end lotions and skin cream for brands sold by well-known chain retailers.
On Monday, acting on information contained in the Inside Edition report, an investigative team from the Department of Labor Worker Protection visited the Twelve Tribes' Common Sense Farm in Cambridge.
"The team found multiple violations involving 12 minors who were engaged in factory work, which is prohibited," the department said Tuesday.
It has now opened cases that could result in fines of tens of thousands of dollars, the department said. It has also educated the owners about child labor standards.
In addition, the Labor Department is investigating Twelve Tribes-related locations in Cambridge, Coxsackie, Oak Hill, Oneonta, Ithaca and Hamburg, all in New York State.
“Every child under the age of 18 in this State has a right to be protected by the Child Labor Law, and we take our enforcement responsibilities seriously,” NYS Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said in a statement. “Children are our most valuable asset and compliance with the Child Labor Law is not discretionary — it’s mandatory.”
The Twelve Tribes previously denied using child labor.
In a statement Tuesday, the group said children occasionally spend time with their parents in a shop at the farm.
For more on Inside Edition's exclusive investigation, watch the full report here.