Tyson Foods is facing a lawsuit alleging that several managers at the firm’s meat processing plant in Waterloo, IA were betting on the number of employees that would contract COVID-19.
About 1,000 workers at the site have tested positive for the coronavirus over the course of the pandemic, according to coverage in USA Today. Five of that group died from the virus.
Tyson Foods President and Chief Executive Officer issued a statement on the lawsuit’s allegations Thursday:
“We are extremely upset about the allegations involving some of the leadership at our Waterloo plant. Tyson Foods is a family company and these allegations do not represent who we are, or our core values and team behaviors. We expect every team member at Tyson Foods to operate with the upmost integrity and care in everything we do. We have suspended, without pay, the individuals allegedly involved hand have retained the law firm Covington & Burling LLP to conduct an independent investigation led by former Attorney General Eric Holder. If these claims are confirmed, we’ll take all measures necessary to root out and remove this disturbing behavior from our company.”
Originally filed by the family of a Tyson worker who died from COVID-19 as a wrongful death lawsuit, the allegations of betting were added in an amendment on November 11, reports said. Other amendments have been added with other allegations that the company disregarded workplace safety measures during the pandemic.
The meat processing industry has faced significant challenges over the course of the COVID-19 outbreak. A report published last July on the virus' impacts on the meat and poultry operations found 16,233 meat and poultry processing workers have become infected with the virus based on aggregate data on confirmed cases through May 31. During that period, 86 died at 239 facilities across 23 states