Racial discrimination complaint filed against Tyson, JBS alleges discrimination in COVID-19 response

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) – A nationwide coalition of organizations filed an administrative civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday.

The complaint alleges that Tyson Foods, Inc., Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., Keystone Foods, LLC, JBS USA,
Inc., and Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. engaged in racial discrimination through their workplace policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The complaint also alleges that the corporations adopted policies that reject critical Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance regarding social distancing on meat processing lines to stop Latino and Asian workforce at the companies’ plants.

It argues that USDA must end federal support for dominant meat processing corporations due to disregard of Black, Latino, and Asian lives and wellbeing.

Read the full complaint below.

Due to federal funding received by the companies through the federal Farm Bill nutrition program and Trade Mitigation Program contracts, this disparate impact violates federal civil rights law.

The complainants ask that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Civil Rights to suspend, terminate, and refuse to provide financial assistance to these two companies based on this racial discrimination and to refer the complaint to the Department of Justice for action.

Tyson and JBS aren’t even trying to follow CDC guidance by distancing workers on the line or slowing line speed. They’re just trying to make as much profit as quickly as they can with their predominantly black and brown workforce in the factory. That’s not the case for their white collar divisions which are made up of more white or Caucasian people – they are allowed to work from home for their health and safety during this pandemic. Because these companies have received over $150 million dollars just this year in taxpayer money, the USDA must investigate this injustice and act immediately to prevent any further worker illnesses and deaths.

From Joe Enriquez Henry, Forward Latino National Vice President

The complainants in this administrative complaint are:

  • Food Chain Workers Alliance
  • The Rural Community Workers Alliance
  • The HEAL Food Alliance
  • Forward Latino
  • American Friends Service Committee – Iowa
  • The Idaho Organization of Resource Councils

The organizations filing the complaint are represented by Public Justice, Nichols Kaster PLLP, and Towards Justice.

Below is a document that Forward Latino claims is supporting data.

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