Tyson Pork Plant Managers Lied About COVID-19, Guess They Need A Lawsuit Shield!
In a new allegation against the management of the Tyson Foods pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, a lawsuit clams that upper management in the plant just lied and lied to interpreters in March and April, telling them to pass on to non-English-speaking workers the terrific news that there were no cases of COVID-19 at the plant, and that local authorities had "cleared" the plant to keep operating. In reality, workers had tested positive, and local authorities were urging that the plant be shut down. On top of that, the lawsuit alleges the managers forbade the translators from discussing the disease with workers, other than to pass on those approved (false) messages.
The amended complaint, filed on behalf of the families of three workers who died after becoming infected at the plant, follows an earlier suit against many of the same Tyson officials, which had alleged that in addition to not providing adequate information and safety equipment to workers during the outbreak in the plant, managers had organized a betting pool on how many employees would catch the virus. This suit is being brought by the same lawyers and includes many of the same allegations about inadequate personal protective equipment and managers telling employees to keep working even if they were ill. All told, more than 1,000 workers tested positive in the outbreak.
The complaint alleges that even after the CDC recommended on April 3 that all Americans wear face coverings and socially distance, Tyson management continued to make workers stand close together on the pork processing line, and did not supply face masks. Like the other suit, this complaint says that as the virus spread in the plant, managers "started avoiding the plant floor" out of fear of the virus, but didn't take steps to protect workers. Management also allegedly "cancelled regularly scheduled safety meetings" in the plant during March and April.
Because many of the plant's employees are immigrants or do not speak English, it employs a lot of interpreters to communicate with those workers in various languages. At a meeting in early April, the complaint says, plant manager Tom Hart (also the alleged organizer of the betting pool) and human resources director James Hook, a new defendant in the amended complaint, met with interpreters and directed them to tell non-English speaking workers "everything is fine," and that there was no outbreak, no sir.
Hart and Hook (good name for a pub for fishermen!) claimed the plant had "no confirmed cases" and that the Black Hawk County Health Department had "cleared" the plant for operation. In reality, the complaint says, there had already been several confirmed cases by that point, and the authorities were trying to close the place down. They also "explicitly forbid interpreters from discussing COVID-19," except to pass on the happy bullshit news about how there was no outbreak and nothing to worry about.
The complaint also says that after that meeting, most interpreters were actually "removed from the plant floor." But do the mean attorneys give the beneficent Tyson management any credit for protecting the health of the interpreters? They do not.
In addition to the alleged monkey business with the interpreters, the new complaint also alleges that USDA food inspectors were asked not to wear masks while working in the plant, since that might "send the wrong message"; that a worker was told to remain on the processing line after throwing up; and that at least one worker was told to keep working even after getting a positive test for the virus.
Here's the complaint, for you nerds who like reading legal documents:
Now, all this might sound like what a layman would call "bad," but you must keep in mind that any attempt to slow down meat production during the pandemic, simply because the pandemic was spreading in the meat plant, would have been bad for America, and bad for Tyson Foods. If you don't have a sophisticated understanding of politics, you might think the workers' families deserve to get every penny they can in damages. But that would make you some kind of socialist if you think that, and maybe a corporatist woke capitalist neo-Marxist, too.
Thankfully, Republicans, who understand politics and ethics and business, especially the ethics of their donors, demand that any new stimulus bill — if ever — must include a big fat liability shield for corporate America. All these crazy infected workers' surviving family members might hold executives and managers responsible for killing their loved ones, and we simply can't afford that.
Yr Wonkette is entirely funded by reader donations! If you can afford a monthly donation of $5 to $10, we'll thank you in any language supported by Google Translate. But probably just in English.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.