Tyson Foods has fired seven workers at an Iowa pig factory following an independent investigation into allegations that management had bet on how many workers would become infected with Covid-19, the meat processing giant announced Wednesday.
All those fired were factory managers at the Waterloo, Iowa plant.
“We value our people and expect everyone on the team, especially our leaders, to act with integrity and diligence in everything we do,” Dean Banks, Tyson Foods President and CEO, said in a statement Wednesday. “The behavior displayed by these individuals does not represent Tyson’s core values, so we have taken prompt and appropriate action to find out the truth.”
The betting allegations, which stem from a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of the late Tyson Foods Inc. employee, Isidro Fernandez, stated that factory management was not doing enough to protect workers, while Covid-19 quickly emerged in early April. distributed throughout the facility.
According to the suit, 1,000 of the 2,800 workers at the Waterloo plant were infected.
According to the lawsuit, “the factory manager organized a cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to bet how many employees would test positive for COVID-19.”
When the company learned of the allegations, it launched its own investigation led by former Attorney General Eric Holder and the law firm Covington & Burling LLP to look at a possible stake ring.
Tyson said Banks and others immediately traveled to Waterloo to meet plant team members and community leaders “to strengthen Tyson’s commitment to them and the community.” Banks said he was “very upset to learn of the behavior found in the allegations, as we expect our leaders to treat all team members with the highest level of respect and integrity.” ‘
Tony Thompson, sheriff of Black Hawk County, visited the Waterloo plant in the spring and said the conditions were so dire that they “shook him to the bone,” the lawsuit said. At the time, factory workers were crowded together and few wore face coverings.
Tyson closed the factory after the outbreak, but reopened less than a month later.