Meat Plant Workers File Lawsuit Against Smithfield Foods During COVID-19 Pandemic

Reuters writer Daniel Wiessner reported last week that, “Smithfield Foods Inc, the world’s largest pork processor, has been accused in a lawsuit of failing to adequately protect workers at a Missouri plant who have been forced to work ‘shoulder to shoulder’ during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“The lawsuit filed Thursday in Missouri federal court claims Smithfield has created a ‘public nuisance‘ by providing inadequate protective equipment to workers at the plant in the town of Milan, refusing to give them time to wash their hands, and discouraging workers who are ill from taking sick leave.

“Workers have also been disciplined for covering their mouths while coughing or sneezing, because it could cause them to miss pieces of meat coming down the processing line, according to the complaint.”

The Reuters article noted that, “Virginia-based Smithfield is owned by China’s WH Group Ltd. Smithfield’s executive vice president for corporate affairs and compliance, Keira Lombardo, said in a statement that worker health and safety is the company’s top priority.

“‘The allegations contained in the complaint are without factual or legal merit and include claims previously made against the company that have been investigated and determined to be unfounded,’ she said.

“The group in the complaint said conditions at the Milan plant have worsened since Smithfield shuttered other pork-processing plants in Missouri, Wisconsin and South Dakota.”

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