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Amended lawsuit claims Tyson managers lied to interpreters about COVID-19 cases at Waterloo plant

WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) — Managers at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Waterloo lied to interpreters about the severity of a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility, according to the latest amendment to a wrongful death lawsuit.

The amended lawsuit, filed on behalf of the families of three workers from the plant who died from COVID-19, says plant manager Tom Hart and human resources director James Hook, who is a new defendant named in the amended lawsuit, 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.”

They also told interpreters that the Black Hawk County Health Department had “cleared” the plant and they “explicitly forbid” interpreters from discussing COVID-19. The lawsuit, however, says there were in fact confirmed cases at the plant at the time of that meeting and instead of “clearing” the plant, county health officials were advocating to close the plant. The amended lawsuit goes on to say three closed-door meetings with interpreters were held in the first three weeks of April and after the first meeting, most interpreters were removed from the plant floor.

Tyson Spokesman Gary Mickelson declined comment on the new allegations, citing the active litigation and ongoing investigation. He says the Waterloo plant employs about 20 translators covering more than half a dozen languages. Mickelson wouldn’t say if Hook has been suspended without pay along with the original managers named in the lawsuit. Mickelson says Tyson has worked hard to provide coronavirus training and education in multiple languages to help ensure team members are safe at work and at home.

The full amended lawsuit can be found here:

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