An investigation by USA Today has uncovered huge problems in the way that Triumph Foods handled the coronavirus outbreak in its St. Joseph processing plant this year. What they did, and the cover-up that followed, led to deaths and life-altering infections of the disease.
Investigation Uncovers Recklessness at Triumph Foods During COVID
We mentioned the outbreak of the coronavirus at Triumph Foods earlier in our blog, in an article on legal immunity for businesses.
The severity of the outbreak and the plant’s response to the risk, however, have been far more disturbing than initially thought.
According to an in-depth investigation by USA Today and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, Triumph Foods went to great lengths to keep their production lines moving. They refused to take reasonable steps to mitigate the spread of the disease among their workers. They also aggressively lobbied state lawmakers and regulators to keep them from mandating safety precautions. When the virus spread and workers got sick and began to die, Triumph Foods did more public relations work than workplace safety.
For example, Triumph told workers – many of whom were immigrants with meager incomes and who were intent on keeping their job in the plant – to stay home if they had symptoms. However, Triumph also made it clear that workers who stayed home could still get fired, and offered a $100 weekly bonus to workers who did not miss a day of work.
Triumph also refused to require its workers wear masks while on the assembly line for weeks after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended it.
Triumph also touted its testing efforts. Back in April, the plant tested every one of its employees for the coronavirus. However, the plant tested its workers as they came in for the day’s shift. They were tested and then worked on the processing lines alongside their coworkers. Days later, the tests would come back to reveal who was infected. By then, of course, the virus would have spread even further.
Meanwhile, Triumph worked to lobby officials to make social distancing guidelines “recommendations,” rather than “mandatory.” It worked, and the close proximity of the workers contributed to the spread of the virus.
Very few workers spoke up about the dangers, though, out of fear of retaliation.
Hundreds of Workers Suffered
By May 15, out of a workforce of 2,800, there were 490 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Triumph Foods. On August 24, health department officials were reporting 622 cases. That number was repeated in November, raising serious suspicions about its accuracy.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
The workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office fight for the rights of workers to have a safe place to earn a living. When companies like Triumph Foods put their workers so recklessly at risk, we fight to hold them accountable and to compensate their workers as they deserve.
Contact us online or call our law office at (816) 875-9373.