Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Managers At A Tyson Pork Plant Placed Bets On How Many Workers Would Get COVID-19, A Lawsuit Alleges

Managers at a Tyson Foods plant in Waterloo, Iowa, rejected pleas from local officials to temporarily shut down during the pandemic and placed bets on how many workers would end up getting COVID-19, according to a recently filed lawsuit. The family of Isidro Fernandez, a worker at the plant who died of COVID-19, filed the lawsuit, alleging Tyson Foods downplayed the spread of the coronavirus among its workforce and incentivized employees to come in when they were sick. "At least one worker at the facility vomited on the production line and management allowed him to continue working and return to work the next day," the lawsuit states. Then, as workers were being infected with COVID-19, a plant manager organized a "cash buy-in, winner-take-all" betting pool to see how many workers would end up testing positive for the virus, according to the lawsuit. The working conditions were so dire at the Waterloo plant, attorneys for Fernandez's family allege a local sheriff said they "shook [him] to the core." Fernandez, who died on April 20, was one of about 2,800 workers at the facility, which processes more than 19,000 pigs a day, according to the complaint. The company did eventually shut down operations by April 22 — after all of the hog carcasses from its cooler were processed. But by then, the outbreak had spread through the workforce. Five workers at the plant have so far died, and according to the complaint, the Black Hawk County Health Department has recorded more than 1,000 infections of COVID-19 among Tyson employees. The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Fernandez's family earlier this year in state court, but was moved to federal court after Tyson Foods argued the plant had remained open during the pandemic at the request of President Donald Trump to preserve the food supply chain...MORE

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