Tyson is firing managers after allegations of the Covid-19 gambling pool

In November, a wrongful death lawsuit filed this summer was changed to include new allegations about the conduct of leaders within the Waterloo facility. The amended lawsuit alleged that Tyson supervisors and facility managers had made bets on how many employees would get sick, even if they took steps to protect themselves and denied knowledge of the spread of the disease at work.

The lawsuit also alleged that factory managers encouraged workers to stay in work even when they were feeling sick or showing symptoms.

The company suspended the people allegedly involved without payment and engaged former Attorney General Eric Holder along with his law firm Covington & Burling LLP to lead an independent investigation into the case.

“The behavior of these individuals does not represent Tyson’s core values, and so we have taken immediate and appropriate action to find out the truth,” Tyson Foods CEO and President Dean Banks said in a statement Wednesday. Banks, along with the company and other individuals, was named as the defendant in the lawsuit.

The complaint also alleged broader problems in Tyson’s handling of Covid-19, alleging that the company had not taken adequate steps to protect employees and encouraged them to come in while they were sick.

More than a third of the factory workers tested positive for Covid-19 in early May.

Tyson said on Wednesday in response to the lawsuit that it is “saddened by the loss of a Tyson team member,” adding that it has taken protective measures at its facilities to help protect workers.

The firm of Covington, as well as attorneys for the defendants and the plaintiff, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tyson said on Wednesday it has fired seven managers at its Waterloo factory.

The wrongful death sentence was filed by Oscar Fernandez, whose father, Isidro Fernandez, worked at the Waterloo factory and died in April of complications from Covid-19.

Meat packing facilities, where workers often work up close, emerged as virus hotspots early in the pandemic. Tyson temporarily shut down the Waterloo plant at the end of April after a growing number of its 2,800 employees became ill. At the time, Black Hawk County’s health department linked the Tyson plant to 182 of the county’s Covid-19 cases, which then totaled 374.
Tyson said it decided to suspend production in Waterloo after receiving data from the health department. It reopened the plant in May, saying it had re-cleaned the entire facility and installed “enhanced safety measures and protective social distance measures.” According to the county’s health department, more than 1,000 Waterloo workers had tested positive for Covid-19 by then.
Tyson (TSN) said Wednesday that Banks went to Waterloo last month after the allegations, and met with workers and community leaders on Wednesday.