A Big Name to Investigate Managers' Alleged COVID Bets

Tyson Foods hires former AG Eric Holder to investigate
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2020 7:20 AM CST
Tyson Suspends Managers Who Allegedly Bet on COVID
In this May 2020 file photo workers file in for a tour of safety measures put into place after the Tyson plant in Waterloo, Iowa, had to shut down due to a COVID-19 outbreak.   (Brandon Pollock/The Courier via AP, File)

(Newser) – Tyson Foods President and CEO Dean Banks says he is "extremely upset" by allegations managers at the nation's biggest pork processing plant placed bets on how many workers would get infected during a COVID outbreak. In a statement Thursday, Banks said the managers allegedly involved have been suspended without pay and former Attorney General Eric Holder will be leading an investigation, NPR reports. "If these claims are confirmed, we’ll take all measures necessary to root out and remove this disturbing behavior from our company," Banks said. The CEO visited the Waterloo, Iowa, plant Thursday.

A lawsuit from the family of Isidro Fernandez, one of at least five workers who died in the outbreak, alleges plant manager Tom Hart started a "cash-buy-in, winner-take-all, betting pool for supervisors and managers" as the virus tore through the plant in April, infecting at least 1,000 workers. Attorney Mel Orchard, who represents the estates of four of the deceased workers, said he was "happily surprised" by the move, the AP reports. Orchard said lawyers found out about the betting pool when they interviewed former Tyson officials. He told the Des Moines Register that he isn't sure what the Holder investigation will uncover, but "based upon what we’re already learning, my belief is this has been the tip of the iceberg." (Read more Tyson Foods stories.)

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