SPRINGDALE, ARK. – Following recent allegations that Tyson Foods managers placed bets on employees testing positive for COVID-19 at its Waterloo, Iowa, pork processing facility, the company announced on Nov. 19 to suspend individuals involved in the lawsuit without pay.
Tyson president and chief executive officer Dean Banks issued a statement regarding the amended lawsuit.
“We are extremely upset about the accusations involving some of the leadership at our Waterloo plant,” Banks said in the statement. “We expect every team member at Tyson Foods to operate with the utmost integrity and care in everything we do. If these claims are confirmed, we’ll take all measures necessary to root out and remove this disturbing behavior from our company.”
The company plans to hold an independent investigation with law firm Covington & Burling LLP, led by former Attorney General Eric Holder.
“Our top priority is and remains the health and safety of our team members,” Banks said. “We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars to transform our US facilities, including the Waterloo plant, with protective measures, from walk-through temperature scanners and workstation dividers to social distance monitors and always-on testing.”
In the amended lawsuit, plant managers allegedly directed supervisors to ignore workers showing symptoms of COVID-19 and told them to continue to work. The case was filed earlier this year by the family of Isidro Fernandez, who died of COVID-19 complications in April.
After closing on April 22, the Waterloo plant was reopened in early May, but Black Hawk County officials expressed concerns about working conditions for employees and workers.
The Black Hawk County Health Department previously reported that more than 1,000 employees of the facility contracted COVID-19.
Tyson Fresh Meats’ Waterloo pork plant employs approximately 2,800 workers and processes approximately 19,500 hogs per day.
The entire lawsuit can be read here.