Tyson Managers Lied to Interpreters About COVID-19 Cases at Waterloo Plant

A new amendment to a wrongful death lawsuit alleges managers at the Tyson plant in Waterloo lied to interpreters about the severity of a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility.

KWWL reports that the amended lawsuit says plant manager Tom Hart and human resources director James Hook told interpreters during a closed-door meeting in April that the facility had “no confirmed cases,” there was no outbreak at the plant and “everything is fine.”

KWWL reports the lawsuit also alleges they told interpreters that the Black Hawk County Health Department “cleared” the plant and they “explicitly forbid” interpreters from talking about COVID-19.

However, the lawsuit says there were confirmed cases at the plant when the April meeting occurred and county health officials had actually advocated on closing the plant, according to KWWL.

Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that three closed-door meetings were held in the first three weeks of April and that most of the interpreters were removed from the plant floor following the first meeting, according to KWWL.

KWWL reports the lawsuit was filed on behalf of the families of three workers from the plant who died from COVID-19.

According to KWWL, Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson declined to comment on the allegations. He cited active litigation and an ongoing investigation. Mickelson told KWWL that the Waterloo plant employs about 20 translators who speak more than half a dozen languages. Mickelson would not confirm to KWWL whether Hook has been suspended without pay along with the original managers named in the lawsuit. Mickelson said Tyson has provided coronavirus training and education in multiple languages to keep team members safe, KWWL reported.

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