Tyson Foods managers bet how many employees would get COVID, lawsuit says

Cornelia Mascio
Novembre 20, 2020

Tyson executives allegedly lobbied Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for Covid-19 liability protections that would shield the company from lawsuits, and successfully lobbied the governor to declare that only the state government, not local governments, had the authority to close businesses in response to the pandemic.

The wrongful death suit was originally filed this summer by Oscar Fernandez, whose father Isidro Fernandez died in April due to complications from Covid-19.

According to a report from the Iowa Capital Dispatch, the lawsuit reveals that upper management at one Tyson plant in Waterloo, IA had a betting pool based around how many of their employees would contract COVID-19. At least 1,000 of the plant's 2,800 employees ended up doing so, and at least five of them died.

Tyson is being sued for fraudulent misrepresentations, gross negligence and wanton disregard for worker safety.

Fernandez claims Tyson required employees to work long hours in cramped conditions despite a coronavirus outbreak, failed to provide sufficient PPE and did not implement proper social distancing measures.

While the owner of Tyson Foods became $600 million richer during the pandemic, 11,000 of his workers got COVID-19 because they were forced back to work in unsafe and unhealthy plants as managers placed bets on how many would get sick.

According to the lawsuit, the 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.

Tyson Foods has two major facilities in Alabama, at Albertville and Blountsville, as well as smaller facilities.

A Tyson spokesman declined to comment on the allegations made in Fernandez's suit.

Tyson says. "We're saddened by the loss of any Tyson team member and sympathize with their families". Our top priority is the health and safety of our workers and we've implemented a host of protective measures at Waterloo and our other facilities that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance for preventing Covid-19.

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