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Tyson Sued Over Worker Deaths From Covid-19

Blackwell Law Firm / Alabama Work Comp LawyersA lawsuit filed against Tyson Foods in February over Covid-19 and workplace safety raises some serious issues. According to the lawsuit:

  • Tyson reported the greatest number of COVID-19 cases of any company in the meatpacking industry.
  • Tyson reported twice as many deaths as any other meatpacking company.
  • Over 12,000 Tyson workers contracted COVID-19.

This is not the only lawsuit Tyson faces for its mishandling of worker safety surrounding the coronavirus. A wrongful death lawsuit filed late last year alleges Tyson actually told sick workers to stay on the job.

I wrote two articles in 2020 specifically about Tyson’s reckless treatment of workers. My first article titled When Management Bets Against Worker Safety discussed claims that Tyson managers actually took bets on the number of workers who  would become sick and suffer while working during the pandemic. My second article titled When Management Lies To Workers discussed how Tyson actually instructed interpreters to misrepresent safety issues to hispanic workers at one facility.

What kind of company gambles on worker deaths? What kind of company directs interpreters to lie to workers? Tyson is not the largest meatpacking company in the world. So, if the newest lawsuit allegations are true, it’s especially horrible that the company suffered twice as many worker deaths as its other competitors.

Based on current Alabama law, I doubt many COVID-19 cases could be successful. Some states have amended their work comp laws to allow coverage for workplace coronavirus injuries without requiring the standard level of causation proof. Some states have amended their laws to allow a presumption of coverage for COVID-19. Alabama has not. Alabama is not likely to do so.

While a large number of purely COVID-19 workplace cases are not likely in Alabama, Tyson’s handling of the pandemic is emblematic of its overall safety culture. Based on what we see with the coronavirus, does anyone really think the company considers overall worker safety an important issue?

Over the years, I’ve handled numerous poultry plant accident and injury cases. In too many of these Alabama facilities, safety is an afterthought (or no thought at all). In my cases, I’ve seen line speeds that were far too fast, company nurses that refused to document injuries, and an overall culture that did not respect the safety of workers.

Too many poultry facilities treat their employees as expendable and discardable. You can read some of my other past articles about the numerous OSHA citations at Alabama poultry plants. From a recent death due to a lack of fall safety at a Guntersville poultry plant to OSHA safety citations at a Russellville plant, the picture is very disturbing. Too many poultry plants ignore worker safety. Our families and neighbors deserve better.

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From its office in Huntsville, the Blackwell Law Firm handles Alabama workers’ compensation cases across the state. We prepare our cases for trial. Outside of the courtroom, we continue to advocate for safer workplaces, safer roadways and safer products. If you have questions about a work comp issue, car accident or other personal injury, give us a call. All our consultations are free and confidential. We want you to have the information you need.

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