“I’m grateful that they might be getting to the bottom of it, but it’s way too late for some people,” he said. “I hope Eric Holder stays on this case and continues to investigate the real issue: How is it that more than one thousand employees at one plant got sick and many died?”
The lawsuits allege plant managers pressured employees to keep working, even through sickness, and that the company waited too long to shut down the plant to stem the outbreak.
Managers told workers they had a responsibility to stay on the job to ensure that Americans didn’t go hungry, even while they started avoiding the plant floor themselves because they were afraid of contracting the virus.
The lawsuits name Hart, Brustkern, managers John Casey and Bret Tapken and human resources director James Hook as defendants. Attempts to reach Hart, Casey, Tapken and Hook were not immediately successful.
Tyson vowed Wednesday to open more avenues for employees to communicate concerns, to create a working group to strengthen collaborations with community leaders and to reinforce the importance of its values. Banks said Holder’s team would help “look for ways to enhance a trusting and respectful workplace.”
The steps come as Tyson faces continued scrutiny over its COVID-19 response, and a debate over whether Congress and states should shield companies from legal liability tied to infected workers and customers.
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