Posted on July 17, 2020

Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against JBS

Thomas Nelson, Times Republican, July 10, 2020

An organization named Forward Latino and other groups from across the country filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against JBS and Tyson alleging racial discrimination during the COVID-19 response.

The organizations filed an administrative civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging that the Tyson and JBS adopted policies that rejected critical Centers for Disease Control guidance, including social distancing on meat processing lines, to stop the spread of COVID-19 at their processing facilities, according to a news release from Forward Latino.

The lawsuit was filed by the Food Chain Workers Alliance, the Rural Community Workers Alliance, the HEAL Food Alliance, Forward Latino, American Friends Service Committee — Iowa, and the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils. They are represented by Public Justice, Nichols Kaster PLLP, and Towards Justice.

The lawsuit is seeking the termination of financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Tyson and JBS and for the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce compliance.

“Food Chain Workers further request that, during any efforts to secure voluntary compliance, the Office of Civil Rights includes Food Chain Workers in any negotiations and communications with the corporations,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit comes after the Centers For Disease Control released information showing a large racial disparity in people who have caught COVID-19.

Latino people are four times more likely to have COVID-19 than Caucasians.

The CDC Disparity Report found that after receiving race and ethnicity data from 21 states.


The lawsuit alleges JBS and Tyson’s policies violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects individuals from racial discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance.

Cameron Bruett, JBS Head of Corporate Affairs, responded to the lawsuit.

“The numerous nationalities, races and cultures in our workforce are the true strength of our company. We are a culture of many, including refugee, immigrant, native-born and asylee. {snip}


The lawsuits states, that the respondents’ meat processing corporations that have received more than $150 million dollars in federal contracts during 2020 – are engaged in racial discrimination.


LULAC filed an Iowa Workforce Development OSHA complaint in April. The JBS complaint stated that unsafe working conditions at the plant in Marshalltown exist in cutting, processing, break and dressing rooms. The complaint further states JBS employs 2,400 people in Marshalltown “who work shoulder-to-shoulder in most of the meat cutting and processing department rooms at the facility.”