Lawsuit filed towards processing firm for lack of virus safety

The American Civil Liberties Union is filing a lawsuit on behalf of beef processing plant employees for failing to take coronavirus precautions.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Nebraska and attorney Maren Chaloupka filed a lawsuit on behalf of former employees and a pediatrician against Noah's Ark, a beef processing plant in Hastings, for allegedly refusing to take precautions against COVID-19 in the area to meet public health protect their employees. The lawsuit seeks a court order that requires "physical distancing, clean masks, sick leave and testing".

The file said: “Officials have refused to enforce laws that require safe working conditions in Nebraska's meat packing plants, where the main workers are predominantly Latinx and Black. To date, there have been no enforcement actions against a meat packaging facility in Nebraska. The ACLU goes on to claim, "Plaintiff Alma (a pseudonym) said workers were afraid of getting COVID-19, but Noah's ark management gave the impression that it wasn't a big deal and said that the fears about the pandemic were simply nonsense. "

The virus quickly spread throughout the facility and more and more employees are showing symptoms as they were forced to work in confined spaces without PPE. The anonymous plaintiff added, "Even when things got more serious, they didn't care. People were sick but they had to keep working. We were all concerned because everyone has children, but not working wasn't an option. If you stop working, you would lose your job. "

Photo by Leonardo Carvalho on Unsplash

The facility and its policy of generating profits on the health of its employees has been identified as a public nuisance by plaintiffs, as the transmission of COVID-19 inside and outside the facility would cause widespread illness, hospitalization and deaths, not just among the Employees of Noah's Ark workers, but also their family members and members of the public with whom they interact. "

In its file, the ACLU said Noah's Ark was negligent in the following areas: “The facility does not immediately replace workers' masks when they are stained with blood, grease and sweat, and forces workers to remove part or all of their faces to leave uncovered ;; The plant has made no effort to physically distance the workers from one another while they are in the plant. Every day they stand shoulder to shoulder on the processing lines for hours and sit crammed together in a small windowless cafeteria where they cannot wear masks while eating. The plant does not provide adequate sick leave to ensure sick workers can stay at home. It has pressured sick people to work, allowed others to continue working despite symptoms, and refused to pay many who stayed home because of symptoms. She has not announced any sick leave regulations to her employees. Noah's Ark does not offer on-site testing. So if there is an increase in some cases, the plant and its employees have no idea until it is too late. "

"This case is about racial justice and workers' rights, health and safety," said Rose Godinez, an attorney for the ACLU. “As the daughter of retired meat packers workers, I can't bear to see workers, their families and our communities at risk because meat packers refuse to protect key workers from COVID-19. State and federal officials have also failed to protect these workers. That is why we must turn to the courts now to ensure the legally required safe work environment. "


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