Iowa finds no violations at Tyson plant with deadly outbreak

Tyson’s Fresh Meat workers file in for a tour of safety measures put into place after the plant had to shut down due to a Covid 19 outbreak, Wednesday, May 6, 2020, in Waterloo, Iowa. On Tuesday, state officials announced that nearly 1,400 workers at three Tyson Foods pork processing plants in Iowa had tested positive for the virus.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The families of three workers who died after contracting the coronavirus in an Iowa meat plant outbreak sued Tyson Foods and its top executives Thursday, saying the company knowingly put employees at risk and lied to keep them on the job.

The lawsuit alleges that Tyson officials were aware the virus was spreading at the Waterloo pork processing plant by late March or early April but kept that information from employees and the public.

As the outbreak grew, the company failed to implement safety measures, allowed some sick and exposed employees to remain on the production line, and falsely assured workers and the public that the plant was safe, the suit alleges.

“Tyson intended by these false representations to deceive workers in the Waterloo facility ... and to induce them to continue working despite the uncontrolled COVID-19 outbreak at the plant and the health risks associated with working,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Black Hawk County district court.

Tyson representatives didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment Thursday afternoon. They have repeatedly said that safety is their top priority.