Distribution center adds 350 jobs in Tennessee

Helen of Troy Limited, a designer and developer of consumer housewares and other products, is expanding in Tennessee.

The company is building a new 2 million-square-foot distribution facility in Gallaway, Tennessee that will create 350 jobs. Julien R. Mininberg, CEO of Helen of Troy Limited, said the new building will house a state-of-the-art automation and direct-to-consumer fulfillment facility.

"Having grown our sales by more than 60 percent since we launched our Transformation Plan seven years ago to over $2 billion, this new distribution center is a critical project to catch up with our expansion and deliver on our future growth strategies with greater scale and efficiency," Mininberg said.. "The new facility expands our distribution operations in the region, allowing us to re-optimize our existing facilities to better fit the specific needs of each of our business segments as we serve our retail and direct-to-consumer customers."


Court rejects claims of child slave labor

The Supreme Court has sided with food giants Nestle and Cargill and thown out a lawsuit that claimed they knowingly bought cocoa beans from farms in Africa that used child slave labor.

The justices ruled 8-1 that an appeals court improperly let the lawsuit against the food companies go forward. The companies had been sued by a group of six adult citizens of Mali who claimed they were taken from their country as children and forced to work on cocoa farms in neighboring Ivory Coast.

"Although respondents' injuries occurred entirely overseas, the Ninth Circuit held that respondents could sue in federal court because the defendant corporations allegedly made 'major operational decisions' in the United States. The Ninth Circuit erred by allowing this suit to proceed," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a majority opinion for the court.

The case had been twice dismissed at an early stage before being revived by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. When the case was argued in December, then-President Donald Trump's administration backed Nestle and Cargill.

The Malian citizens had argued that Minneapolis-based Cargill and the American arm of Switzerland-based Nestle "aided and abetted" their slavery as children by, among other things, buying cocoa beans from farms that used child labor.

Nestle and Cargill have maintained throughout the case that they have done nothing wrong and that they have taken steps to combat child slavery. In statements following the ruling both Nestle and Cargill repeated that they remain committed to working to combat child labor in the cocoa industry.


Southern hospital chains to combine

A large New Orleans-based health system with hospitals in Louisiana and Mississippi plans a merger that will deepen its presence in Mississippi.

Ochsner Health and Rush Health Systems said in a news release that officials expect a proposed merger to become final in mid-2022 pending regulatory approval.

Ochsner has 40 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and specialty hospitals in Louisiana and Mississippi, plus more than 100 health and urgent care centers.

Rush, based in Meridian, Mississippi, owns six hospitals in east Mississippi and one in west Alabama, along with more than 30 clinics. All but one Rush's hospitals are small and rural.

Officials say more than 400 Rush employees making $7.25 an hour will earn Ochsner's $12 minimum wage after the merger.

The two systems have had a strategic partnership since 2019.