Tyson Foods is facing a wrongful death lawsuit after more than 1,000 employees of a pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa tested positive for coronavirus early in the pandemic. The lawsuit, filed by the son of one of the workers who passed in April from covid-19 complications, alleges that not only did supervisors knowingly keep the facility open during the outbreak, they also placed bets on how many workers would catch the virus.
The lawsuit was originally filed in Iowa state court, but Tyson Foods later asked for it to be moved to federal court. An amended complaint was filed on November 11, and amidst new allegations was the claim that one of the plant managers “organized a cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager how many employees would test positive for COVID-19.” Betting on your employees’ potential deaths during a global pandemic is a level of cruelty and inhumanity that I am genuinely having trouble wrapping my mind around.
The suit also claims that Tyson Foods declined to provide PPE or implement any COVID-19 safety procedures, even after the virus started to spread within the facility.
“Despite an uncontrolled COVID-19 outbreak, Tyson required its employees to work long hours in cramped conditions,” the lawsuit alleges. “Moreover, despite the danger of COVID-19, Tyson failed to provide appropriate personal protective equipment and failed to implement sufficient social distancing or safety measures to protect workers from the outbreak.”
Tyson Foods declined to comment on the allegations made in the lawsuit, but a spokesperson pointed out that since the outbreak last April, the company had added walk-through temperature scanners and workstation dividers to the facility, on top of mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing requirements. Maybe next they’ll consider firing the managers who were allegedly gambling on their employees’ lives.