Posted June 1, 2020
As if it was a modern twist on Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, the meatpacking industry is once again a danger to workers. This time, however, for its spread of the novel coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the meatpacking industry across the United States has become a COVID-19 hotspot due to the nature of the work.
For those employed by the meatpacking industry, some 500,000 people, the prolonged close proximity to other workers for an eight-hour shift immediately puts them at an increased risk. In addition, thousands may work through a single shift, standing shoulder to shoulder in these cold facilities.
While the physical limitations are part of the issue, the physical demands also put workers at risk, as they must move swiftly to move carcasses across conveyor belts, or quickly process packages. This grueling work causes employees to breathe harder and sometimes causes their masks to not be properly positioned.
Though the CDC has called for these industries to slow down and limit the number of workers on one shift, it seems that much of the damage has been done.
It is estimated that at least 50 workers have died of COVID-19 and more than 10,000 have tested positive, according to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.
- In Hazleton, Pa., Cargill Meat Solutions, which employs 900-workers, closed down temporarily after more than 160 workers tested positive for COVID-19, and many more called out sick.
- In North Carolina, the Department of Health and Human Services has reported more than 2,000 meatpacking workers who’ve tested positive for COVID-19.
- Other meatpacking giants who are reporting high numbers include: Tyson, Smithfield Foods, and JBS USA.
Legal Rights of Workers
Though much of the nation is beginning to open its doors once again, the injuries you have sustained as a worker in a meatpacking plant during COVID-19 cannot go unnoticed. Right now, workers are petitioning employers to follow the CDC guidelines closely for their protection. However, as it has been made obvious, those workers are still suffering.
Many more families are suing these companies for ignoring the safety guidelines, leading to the death of their loved ones.
Because employers are claiming they are simply following the guidelines established by the government, many victims are not pursuing action because of fear. But your voice and your rights matter.
Legal Representation for Meatpacking Workers During COVID-19
If your employer is putting you at risk for COVID-19, or you and your coworkers have already experienced sickness and injury due to lack of care by your employer, call us today. Our employee rights attorneys all over the nation are waiting to take your case.
Posted in Employee Rights.