MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a federal safety complaint against poultry processor Wayne Farms LLC claiming the company endangered the health of a former employee. The complaint was filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The SPLC filed the complaint on behalf of the former worker, who says she was forced to quit her job due to health issues related to exposure to harsh chemicals. The worker says she believes her coworkers are still being exposed to dangerous levels of chemicals. The group withheld some details of the complaint to prevent Wayne Farms “from retaliating against the woman and other workers.”
In 2014, the SPLC alleged, among other things, that workers at the poultry company were forced to endure “unsafe and abusive conditions or lose their jobs.”
While inquiries to the company about the complaint were not answered, Wayne Farms has recently received recognition for its safety programs. This past year, 10 Wayne Farms’ facilities were awarded by the Joint Industry Safety and Health Council for outstanding safety performance for its effective safety and health programs. The company received the award during the 2015 National Safety Conference for the Poultry Industry.
According to the Wayne Farms website, nine of its plants received the Award of Distinction, which is the highest accolade available, including two prepared foods plants in Decatur, Alabama; three hatcheries located in Troy, Alabama, Laurel, Mississippi, and Elkin, North Carolina; four fresh processing plants in Union Springs, Alabama, Dothan, Alabama, Enterprise, Alabama and Pendergrass, Georgia.
Oakwood, Georgia-based Wayne Farms is the sixth largest poultry processor in the United States with annual sales of more than $1.9 billion. The company, which is a subsidiary of Continental Grain Co., owns and operates 11 fresh and further-processed facilities throughout the Southeast and produces more than 2.6 billion lbs. of poultry products annually.