Tyson Foods announced in a press release on Wednesday that it completed its independent investigation into allegations that management at its Waterloo, Iowa pork processing plant placed monetary bets, including a winner-take-all pool, on how the COVID-19 pandemic would impact the employees at the plant. The statement said that the allegations and following investigation led to the firing of seven employees at the plant.
“The behaviors exhibited by these individuals do not represent the Tyson core values, which is why we took immediate and appropriate action to get to the truth,” said Tyson President and CEO, Dean Banks, in the statement. According to lawsuits filed in the matter, at least five employees at the Waterloo plant died and over 1,000 contracted COVID-19.
November allegations in at least two lawsuits spurred by deaths of employees at the plant alleged that the managers had placed monetary bets on how many employees would catch COVID-19. This was in addition to allegations that the management of the company did not take proper steps to protect its employees from COVID-19, specifically by not allowing physical distancing and requiring sick and exposed employees to continue working.
“We were very upset to learn of the behaviors found in the allegations, as we expect our leaders to treat all team members with the highest levels of respect and integrity … That’s why we have asked former Attorney General Eric Holder and his team to partner with Tyson to help us as we continue to look for ways to enhance a trusting and respectful workplace,” Banks said.
The company announced shortly after the allegations were added to the two lawsuits that it was conducting a private investigation into the purported behaviors. The investigation was conducted by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder with Covington & Burling LLP. As a result of the allegations, Tyson also said that as a result of the allegations it is opening more communication channels, strengthening collaboration, and reinforcing the company’s values at the plant.