Tyson Foods suspends employees after lawsuit alleges that manager bet on which workers would catch COVID-19

On 19 November, Tyson Foods Inc said it has suspended employees without pay and hired former US Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an investigation in response to a wrongful death lawsuit.
calendar icon 20 November 2020
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The worker, Isidro Fernandez, got sick because of his job, according to the lawsuit that was amended on 11 November.

The Waterloo facility is Tyson's largest US pork plant, processing 19,500 hogs a day, or about 5 percent of total US pork production.

COVID-19 infected more than 1,000 employees out of about 2,800 at the plant, and five died, the lawsuit says. Tyson idled the plant in late April because of an outbreak.

Earlier that month, manager Tom Hart "organised a cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager how many employees would test positive for COVID-19," according to the lawsuit.

Hart could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tyson said it suspended employees involved in the accusations and retained the law firm Covington & Burling to conduct an independent investigation led by Holder.

"If these claims are confirmed, we'll take all measures necessary to root out and remove this disturbing behaviour from our company," the company said.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch first reported on the betting allegations in the lawsuit on Wednesday 18 November.

"This shocking report of supervisors allegedly taking bets on how many workers would get infected, pressuring sick workers to stay on the job, and failing to enforce basic safety standards, should outrage every American," said Marc Perrone, president of the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union.

Read more about this story here.

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