A court in Brazil rules that JBS must pay damages over COVID-19 outbreak

A court in Brazil ordered JBS SA, the world's largest meat processing company, to pay 1 million reais ($194,000) in damages over its failure to take measures to protect workers from a COVID-19 outbreak.
calendar icon 2 June 2021
clock icon 5 minute read

Reuters learned of the ruling from a statement from Brazil’s labor prosecutors on 1 June. JBS declined to comment on the decision handed down by Judge Marcelo Silva Porto, saying it does not discuss ongoing lawsuits.

Porto's ruling also called for modifying work schedules to reduce the number of workers per shift at JBS' plant in the Ana Rech district of Caxias do Sul, where it processes poultry. Workers at that plant should also be provided with protective masks, individual lockers and should stay at least two meters apart, the ruling said, according to a statement from the labor prosecutors.

In the United States, the company has also faced claims that it failed to protect employees from the virus.

For example, in September 2020, the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed $15,615 in penalties be imposed on JBS Foods Inc, after it found the company's plant in Greeley, Colorado, did not protect employees from exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Brazil's Ana Rech unit became the site of the first indoor outbreak of the coronavirus in Caxias do Sul, which led to the temporary shutdown of the plant in June 2020, the prosecutors said.

Mandatory testing of all employees was also carried out at the facility when the outbreak occurred, the statement noted. Of the 1,538 tests performed, 410 gave positive results.

JBS may appeal the ruling, prosecutors said.

($1 = 5.15 reais)

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