Posted November 23, 2020
Tyson Foods is in legal trouble after the family of a deceased worker filed a claim for wrongful death. Isidro Fernandez died earlier this year after contracting COVID-19 in a Waterloo, Iowa pork processing plant. At that time, Tyson Foods ordered employees to report for work as supervisors privately wagered money on the number of workers who would be sickened by the deadly virus. Fernandez was one of at least five employees to die from coronavirus, and at least a third of the employees had become ill from the virus.
The lawsuit calls Tyson Foods guilty of a “willful and wanton disregard for workplace safety.” In addition, it calls out the uncontrolled spread of the virus within the plant, yet employees were still required to report to work in cramped conditions without appropriate personal protective equipment. At the same time, no member of management did anything to ensure safety measures were filed.
The lawsuit was amended after the initial filing, adding the following:
- In mid-April, a plant manager organized a cash-buy-in, winner-take-all, betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager how many plant employees would test positive for COVID-19.
- An upper-level manager at the plant allegedly directed supervisors to ignore symptoms of COVID-19, telling them to show up to work even with symptoms.
- In late March or early April, managers at the Waterloo plant reportedly began avoiding the plant floor for fear of contracting the virus.
- In March and April, plant supervisors denied the existence of any confirmed cases for COVID-19 within the plant.
- Tyson paid out $500 “thank you bonuses” to employees who turned up for every scheduled shift for three months.
- Tyson executives allegedly lobbied Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for COVID-19 liability protections that would shield the company from lawsuits.
The case is seeking damages for fraudulent misrepresentation and gross negligence. However, Tyson petitioned to have the case moved to federal court, where the company argued that President Donald Trump ordered meat and poultry processing companies to continue operating under the Defense Protection Act.
The victims are claiming that President Trump did not order them to behave in the way they had.
While families of sick and deceased Tyson workers are waiting for answers, more and more Americans are wondering, when will this end and when will the value of human life over financial gain prevail?
Workers Rights and Protections During COVID-19
If your employer has not offered protections to employees from COVID-19 resulting in widespread illness or death, you must seek legal action. Companies’ bottom line should never overrule employees’ safety and health.
But if this has happened in your place of employment, you need justice. Contact the COVID-19 personal injury lawyers today. We will fight for you.
Posted in COVID-19.