A wrongful death lawsuit has been refiled against a Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa.
The lawsuit, originally filed by relatives of an employee who’ve died from COVID-19, alleges managers at the plant bet money on how many employees would contract the virus.
According to a report by the Iowa Capital Dispatch, local health department data shows at least 1,000 Tyson Foods employees contracted COVID-19 while working at the plant. That figure represents over a third of the plant’s total workforce.
The plant eventually shut down as a result of the outbreak but not without consequence.
Isidro Fernandez, who worked at the plant, died in late April after contracting COVID-19. He is one of at least five people who died after contracting the virus at the processing plant.
His son, Oscar Fernandez, originally filed a lawsuit against the company earlier this year for the conditions employees were forced to work in. He also claimed Tyson Foods did not accurately inform employees about the severity of the virus’ spread at the plant.
The rapid transmission was condemned by local health officials who say the company didn’t provide workers with sufficient protective gear while being forced to work longer hours in tight spaces.
Tyson Foods requested the lawsuit be moved to federal court after Fernandez filed it in state court.
With the move, additional allegations were brought against the company on November 11, including the claim that managers at the plant turned the transmission risk into a game.
According to documents, the lawsuit alleges one manager “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 lawsuit also includes a list of allegations of the company’s “willful and wanton disregard for workplace safety.”
Gary Mickelson, a spokesman for Tyson Foods told The Washington Post the company is prioritizing safety and that they’ve “implemented a host of protective measures at Waterloo and our other facilities that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance for preventing COVID-19.”
The company declined to comment on the wager allegations in Fernandez’s lawsuit.
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