Tyson Foods has stepped up its response to a lawsuit over Covid deaths, in which a manager is accused of taking bets on how many workers would contract the virus.
The complaint was filed last week, by the son of Isidro Fernandez, a worker at a Tyson facility in Waterloo, Iowa, who died in April from the virus.
The complaint seeks putative damages over the deaths of five employees and the infection of 1,000 workers at the pork plant.
It says that on April 10 this year health officials were shook to the core when they visited the Waterloo facility. Black Hawk County Sherriff Tony Thompson found workers were crowded elbow to elbow and most weren’t wearing face coverings. He lobbied Tyson to close the plant, but the company refused.
It was around that time that Tom Hart, the plant manager, organised a cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers, to wager on how many employees would test positive for Covid-19.
“We have suspended, without pay, the individuals allegedly involved”
Two days later, on April 12, nearly two-dozen Tyson employees were admitted to the emergency room at MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center.
Yesterday, Tyson Foods President & CEO Dean Banks said, “We are extremely upset about the accusations involving some of the leadership at our Waterloo plant.
“Tyson Foods is a family company with 139,000 team members and these allegations do not represent who we are.
“We have suspended, without pay, the individuals allegedly involved and 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 behaviour from our company.”
The Waterloo Facility is Tyson’s largest pork plant in the United States. It employs 2,800 workers who process approximately 19,500 hogs per day. Tyson Foods is the largest meat processor in the United States.