Tyson Foods gets 'canceled' as suit claims manager bet on workers contracting Covid-19: 'This is tragic'

Employees were given no face masks or other protective gear as they worked amid the pandemic despite repeated calls from local officials to stop production


                            Tyson Foods gets 'canceled' as suit claims manager bet on workers contracting Covid-19: 'This is tragic'
Tyson Food packaging (Getty Images)
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Tyson Foods became the latest victim of cancel culture after news broke of a federal lawsuit filed in Iowa by the son of a plant worker who died of coronavirus alleging that the manager of the company's pork processing plant organized a betting pool to invite wagers on how many staffers at the facility would contract the virus around the start of the pandemic. 

According to the lawsuit, the manager of the Waterloo pork plant, Tom Hart, set up a winner-takes-all wager as coronavirus infections ran rampant across the Iowa plant and employees were given no face masks or other protective gear as they worked amid the pandemic. The suit alleged Hart and other supervisors themselves steered clear of the plant floor in late March and early April “because they were afraid of contracting the virus.” “Around this time, Defendant Tom Hart, the Plant Manager of the Waterloo Facility, organized a cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager how many employees would test positive for Covid-19,” the suit states.

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Despite repeated calls from local officials to stop production, the plant continued to function and on April 12, more than two dozen workers at the plant were hospitalized with coronavirus. In one of the instances, a top plant official, “intercepted a sick supervisor enroute to get tested and ordered the supervisor to get back to work, adding, ‘we all have symptoms—you have a job to do’,” the suit alleged. Oscar Fernandez, the son of the worker who filed the suit is seeking unspecified damages for gross negligence.

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When details of the lawsuit reached social media, people could not hold back their horror and many of them vouched never to buy products from Tyson Foods again. "This is terribly tragic and heartbreaking and also we need greater worker protections. Also F**k the Tyson management," one said, while another wrote, "In a newly filed wrongful death lawsuit, Tyson Foods are accused of forcing workers to report to work whilst their Supervisors avoid going in and placing bets on the number of workers who would be sickened by Coronavirus. Can you believe this horrific shit?" A third added, "Don't buy chicken from Tyson ever again. I sure as hell won't. #Tyson"

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Someone else wrote, "If anyone's looking for a reason to become a vegetarian, 'Tyson executives bet money on how many of their employees will get sick and die' seems like a good one." The next remarked, "I hope everyone understands this it not a one-off but a systemic way of treating food workers and particularly meat packers, not just Tyson, tho they’re most easily recognized, but all meat giants. Corporate meat is corrupt and cruel to every living being." One more quipped, "This is the kind of sh*t I use as example when conservatives cry about regulations=bad. You can count on corporations abusing and killing ppl for a buck. Always. Regulations and oversight are NECESSARY." 

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Another opined, "No one should eat Tyson products EVER again. I know a lot of it goes to China, but much of it doesn't, and we shouldn't eat it. I don't." One person wrote, "I've just typed and deleted three comments because no words are capable of expressing my horror."


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Tyson Foods has not responded to these allegations but has previously said that it denies the original allegations which claimed that Tyson is guilty of a “willful and wanton disregard for workplace safety” and that the company endangered employees by downplaying virus concerns in order to keep them working. Tyson has moved the lawsuit to federal court on claims that it remained open because of President Donald Trump’s April order requiring plants to stay open in order to maintain the nation’s meat supply. This lawsuit was later amended to add the allegations against the manager of the pork plant.

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The Tyson plant eventually did close after reports that it fueled a massive coronavirus outbreak in Waterloo. More than 180 infections were linked to the plant at the time of closure, according to the Black Hawk County Health Department. The plant employs 2,800 workers.

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