Tyson Foods suspended officials Thursday at its largest meatpacking plant after a lawsuit alleged they took bets on how many workers would get COVID-19 early in the pandemic.
A wrongful death lawsuit was filed earlier this year after Isidro Fernandez was exposed to the virus at the Waterloo plant, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch. Fernandez’s family’s lawsuit alleges Tyson Foods is guilty of a “willful and wanton disregard for workplace safety.”
The suit alleges that plant manager Tom Hart organized a betting pool for the management team to put money on how many workers would test positive, the Capital Dispatch reported. Another manager, John Casey allegedly told supervisors to disregard symptoms and reportedly called it the “glorified flu.” Then, in March and April, supervisors reportedly denied confirmed cases and allegedly they had a responsibility to keep working to feed Americans.
Company CEO Dean Banks said in a statement he was “extremely upset” and that the accused managers from the Waterloo, Iowa, plant were placed on unpaid suspensions.
“We have suspended, without pay, the individuals allegedly involved and have retained the law firm Covington & Burling LLP to conduct an independent investigation led by former Attorney General Eric Holder,” the statement read. “If these claims are confirmed, we’ll take all measures necessary to root out and remove this disturbing behavior from our company.” (RELATED: Tyson Foods To Open Health Clinics At Several US Factories)
While the owner of Tyson Foods became $600 million richer during the pandemic, 11,000 of his workers got COVID-19 because they were forced back to work in unsafe and unhealthy plants as managers placed bets on how many would get sick. We must end this disgusting corporate greed.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 19, 2020
There were over 1,000 COVID-19 infections and 6 deaths at the plant and 6, the New York Post reported.
Tyson’s Waterloo plant is the largest pork plant in the US and employs around 2,800 workers, according to the Capital Dispatch.