Federal Court Dismisses Workers’ Rights Suit against Smithfield Foods Inc.
A federal court has dismissed a suit brought by Rural Community Workers Alliance, alleging unsafe working conditions due to COVID-19 for workers at a Smithfield pork processing plant in Missouri.
The judge cited in part the Trump administration’s April 28 executive order that requires meat processing plants to continue operating during the pandemic and noted that the federal government (i.e., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other agencies) has responsibility for ensuring worker safety, rather than the courts.
After the suit had been filed in April and as reported on this blog, federal agencies took action to respond to the outbreaks at meat processing plants, and Smithfield implemented changes in its plant, including screening workers for symptoms and installing barriers between workers. It remains to be seen whether the Missouri decision will chill future actions from being brought for worker safety concerns at food processing plants.