WATERLOO, IOWA –Family members of three Tyson Foods employees who died of COVID-19 complications filed a lawsuit against Tyson Foods Inc. on June 25.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Black Hawk County, Iowa, alleges that company officials knew the virus was spreading at the Tyson Fresh Meats pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, but did not inform the employees.

The estates of Sedika Buljic, Reberiano Garcia and Jose Luis Ayala Jr., who died in April and May, are seeking damages from the company.

“Tyson intended by these false representations to deceive workers at the Waterloo Facility, including Ms. Buljic, Mr. Garcia and Mr. Ayala, and to induce them to continue working despite the uncontrolled COVID-19 outbreak at the plant and the health risks associated with working at the Waterloo Facility,” according to the lawsuit.

Tyson responded to a request for comment regarding the lawsuit.

“We’re saddened by the loss of any Tyson team member and sympathize with their families,” Tyson spokesperson Gary Mickelson said. “Our top priority is the health and safety of our workers and we’ve implemented a host of protective measures at our facilities that meet or exceed CDC and OSHA guidance for preventing COVID-19.”

On April 22, Tyson suspended operations at its Waterloo plant for two weeks due to virus. The company reopened the plant in early May, but Black Hawk County officials, which includes Waterloo, expressed concerns regarding working conditions for employees and workers not having proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

According to the Black Hawk County Health Department website on June 28, there have been 2,293 reported cases of COVID-19 and 59 deaths. 

Earlier in June, Iowa’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) concluded that no violations were discovered at the plant.