More than 50 meatpacking workers have died of COVID-19. Now, the families of two of those workers have sued their former employers, accusing the companies of ignoring safety guidelines.
A Pennsylvania family sued beef processor JBS last week over the death of Enock Benjamin, a 70-year-old man who died April 30 after contracting COVID-19 at the company’s Souderton plant, the suit alleges. It accuses JBS, the second-largest meat processor in the U.S., of ignoring recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in early March that meat companies position plant workers at least six feet apart and provide them with gloves.
JBS did not require workers to report illness or to self-quarantine, and it did not obtain masks for workers until April 2, the complaint said, adding that the company added an extra work day so it could keep up with consumer demand for meat, according to the complaint.
Benjamin had worked at the Souderton plant for 12 years, was a union steward and was well-liked by his colleagues, said Robert Mongeluzzi, the lead attorney on the case. “It is tragically ironic that he is the one that has lost his life because the multinational conglomerate didn’t take the precautions that it should have,” Mongeluzzi said.
JBS did not respond to a request for comment on the suit.
The case mirrors one filed May 4 in Dallas, Texas, by the partner and parents of Hugo Dominguez, who was a forklift operator at Quality Sausage. Dominguez, who was 46 when he died, started showing symptoms April 15 and died 10 days later.
Despite showing symptoms, Dominguez “was told to report to work and to keep at it – otherwise he would have been laid off,” the suit claims, adding: “His death could have been prevented had the company spent a small segment of its $100 million profits to protect its underpaid and overworked employees.” Another Quality Sausage worker in his 30s, Mathias Martinez, also died after contracting COVID-19 at the plant, according to reports.
Source: CBS News