Tyson Foods wants a federal court in Texas to take on a gross negligence and willful misconduct case filed by 11 meat processing plant employees—plus the estate of one dead worker—against company officials accused of failing to provide a work environment safe from the coronavirus.
In its Aug. 28 notice of removal to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the company claims federal court is the proper place for the state court lawsuit filed by Arnold & Itkin LLP in Houston.
The employees allege that three
Tyson chose not to provide its employees with workers compensation insurance, instead implementing a program called “WISP or Workplace Injury Settlement Program wherein Tyson pressures employees to sign releases before providing injury benefits,” according to the complaint. “In many cases, Tyson then pays limited, if any benefits, once its employees have signed away their right to sue.”
Arguing in support of removing the case to federal court, Tyson cites President
Shortly after that presidential order was issued, the U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA announced that they were unlikely to cite plants for health violations if those employers try in “good faith” to follow guidance from OSHA and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Zachary T. Mayer of Mayer LLP in Dallas represents Tyson Foods. He wasn’t immediately available for comment. A representative from the company didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment.
The original complaint was filed June 11 in Shelby County District Court in Texas, and amended to add the 10 employees and the estate of the deceased worker.
The case is Glenn et al v. Tyson Foods, Inc. et al, E.D. Tex., No. 9:20-cv-00184, 8/28/20.