Tyson Foods' Arkansas facility is being sued due to failed precautions during the early days of the COVID pandemic.
There are 34 Tyson Foods employees, former employees, and family members who filed a lawsuit against the company Monday, saying it failed to take appropriate precautions at its meat-packing plants.
In the lawsuit, filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court in Tyson’s home state of Arkansas, the plaintiffs said Tyson’s negligence and disregard for its workers led to emotional distress, illness, and death. Several of the plaintiffs are the spouses or children of Tyson workers who died after contracting COVID.
The lawsuit claims Tyson knew about COVID as early as January 2020, when the virus was spreading through its facilities in China. On March 13 of that year, Tyson suspended all business travel and mandated that all non-critical employees at its corporate office work remotely, the lawsuit said.
At the five Arkansas plants where the plaintiffs or their family members worked, however, Tyson didn’t provide masks or allow work modifications to allow for social distancing until late April 2020, the lawsuit said. The company also didn’t perform contact tracing or quarantine infected workers, the lawsuit added.
Meat-packing facilities were early epicenters of the COVID epidemic in the US, with employees working closely together on the production line. At least 59,000 meat-packing workers contracted COVID-19, and 269 workers died in 2020, according to a US House report issued in 2021.