CENTER, TEXAS — Tyson Foods Inc. recently asked for a COVID-19 related lawsuit involving 11 meat processing plant workers be moved to federal court.  

On Aug. 28, Tyson filed a notice of removal for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas maintaining that the federal court is the appropriate location for a state lawsuit filed by Arnold & Itkin LLP in Houston, Texas, on behalf of the employees.

In the lawsuit filed on June 11 in Shelby County Texas District Court, the employees allege that three Tyson Foods safety officials at a company facility in Center, Texas, forced workers to continue to show up during the COVID-19 outbreak.

As employees were allegedly forced to work, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s stay-at-home order was in effect. The lawsuit alleges that the company did not give workers proper personal protective equipment (PPE). 

According to the complaint, Tyson also did not provide workers compensation insurance.

“Instead, Tyson has implemented a program called WISP or Workplace Injury Settlement Program wherein Tyson pressures employees to sign releases before providing injury benefits,” the complaint said. “In many cases, Tyson then pays limited, if any benefits, once its employees have signed away their right to sue.” 

As part of Tyson’s notice of removal, it cited President Donald Trump’s executive order keeping meat processing plants open to hold off possible shortages of meat.