Poor Taste At Tyson Foods. Employees Fired For Making Bets On How Many Co-Workers Would Catch COVID.

It’s been a dark year, but some Tyson Foods workers in Iowa really lowered the bar for behavior. Now, seven of those workers are without a job.

Those employees at a pork-processing plant in Waterloo were let go because they made bets on how many co-workers would be infected by the coronavirus.

Oscar Fernandez, the son of a deceased Tyson Foods employee, filed a lawsuit last month accusing the company of “fraudulent misrepresentations, gross negligence, and incorrigible, willful and wanton disregard for worker safety.” Fernandez’s father, Isidro Fernandez, died of complications from the virus in April.

The subsequent investigation was conducted by Covington & Burling LLP and led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, a partner at the firm.

Tyson President and CEO Dean Banks issued a statement on Wednesday addressing the results. “We value our people and expect everyone on the team, especially our leaders, to operate with integrity and care in everything we do,” Banks said.

“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,” Banks continued. “Now that the investigation has concluded, we are taking action based on the findings.”

This “betting ring” seemed to be more proactive than just the gambling aspect. Beyond the plant manager organizing a cash buy-in betting pool on how many workers would contract COVID-19, the lawsuit alleged that employees were pressured to continue coming to work during the pandemic despite safety concerns.

Banks’ statement included plans for establishing better protocols. “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.” 

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