April 17, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Tyson Foods fires 7 managers accused of betting on employee COVID-19 infections at Iowa plant

Seven Tyson Foods plant managers who were accused of betting on how many employees would get coronavirus were fired Wednesday, the company said.

The suspected pool at Tyson’s pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, was first reported in a November lawsuit filed by the son of a Isidro Fernandez, a plant employee who died from COVID-19.

The lawsuit also accused of Tyson of disregarding worker safety while keeping the plant open and pressuring sick employees to keep working.

But the most eye-catching accusation was that managers bet on how many employees at the northeast Iowa plant would get the virus. Eventually, more than 1,000 workers tested positive and six died.

After the suit was filed, Tyson suspended any accused managers without pay and hired a team led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the suit’s claims.

Wednesday’s firings were the result of that investigation, the company said in a statement. Tyson did not name the sacked managers or release a full investigative report.

The lawsuit identified Tom Hart as the man who organized the “cash buy-in, winner-take-all” pool.

Tyson said the firings were specifically related to the betting pool, as it has defended its other actions from March and April as coronavirus spread through several of its facilities.

More than 305,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins data. Iowa, the 31st-most populous state, has recorded 3,350 COVID deaths, 27th-most among U.S. states.