Tyson fires 7 at Iowa pork plant after COVID betting inquiry

In this May 1, 2020, file photo, vehicles sit in a near empty parking lot outside the Tyson Foods plant in Waterloo, Iowa. A group of worker advocacy organizations has filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging that meat processing companies Tyson and JBS have engaged in workplace racial discrimination during the coronavirus pandemic. The complaint alleges the companies adopted polices that reject U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on distancing and protective gear on meat processing lines. The complaint says the operating procedures have a discriminatory impact on mostly Black, Latino, and Asian workers. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, file)
In this May 1, 2020, file photo, vehicles sit in a near empty parking lot outside the Tyson Foods plant in Waterloo, Iowa. A group of worker advocacy organizations has filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging that meat processing companies Tyson and JBS have engaged in workplace racial discrimination during the coronavirus pandemic. The complaint alleges the companies adopted polices that reject U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on distancing and protective gear on meat processing lines. The complaint says the operating procedures have a discriminatory impact on mostly Black, Latino, and Asian workers. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, file) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Tyson Foods has fired seven top managers at its largest pork plant after an independent investigation confirmed allegations that they bet on how many workers would test positive for the coronavirus, the company announced Wednesday.

The company said the investigation, led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, revealed troubling behavior that resulted in the firings at the plant in Waterloo, Iowa. An outbreak centered around the plant infected more than 1,000 employees, at least six of whom died.

“We value our people and expect everyone on the team, especially our leaders, to operate with integrity and care in everything we do,” Tyson Foods President and CEO Dean Banks said in a statement. “The behavior exhibited by these individuals does not represent the Tyson core values, which is why we took immediate and appropriate action to get to the truth.”

Banks traveled to the Waterloo plant on Wednesday to discuss the actions with employees.

Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the company will not release detailed findings of the investigation or the names of those fired, citing privacy concerns.

“We can tell you that Mr. Holder and his team looked specifically at the gaming allegations and found sufficient evidence for us to terminate those involved,” he said.

Tyson suspended several top officials last month and retained the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, where Holder is a partner, to conduct the investigation.

Former maintenance manager Cody Brustkern said he cooperated with the investigation but was fired from his job of 10 years on Tuesday night without explanation. He said executives were “protecting their brand” over their longtime managers.