Tyson, JBS to pay $127 million to resolve lawsuit

Workers accused the processing plants of wage-fixing
calendar icon 12 March 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

Meat industry giants Tyson and JBS have agreed to pay a combined $127.2 million to resolve a lawsuit accusing them of suppressing workers’ pay at processing plants, marking the largest deals so far in the wage-fixing case in Colorado federal court, reported Reuters

Lawyers for the workers on Friday asked a judge to preliminarily approve the two deals, which would push total settlements to $138.5 million since the class-action lawsuit was filed in 2022.

A class estimated at tens of thousands of red meat processing workers at 140 plants alleged a years-long conspiracy among JBS,Tyson and other companies to artificially keep wages low. The lawsuit said the companies violated antitrust law by sharing confidential compensation data through surveys and meetings.

Brazil’s JBS, which is the world’s largest beef producer, agreed to pay $55 million, according to the settlement. Arkansas-basedTyson will pay $72.25 million.

Neither company immediately responded to requests for comment.

Both have denied the plaintiffs’ allegations and did not admit any wrongdoing as part of their settlements.

U.S. District Judge Phillip Brimmer last year declined to dismiss the lawsuit.

Perdue earlier agreed to pay a $1.25 million settlement, and Seaboard Foods said it would pay a total of $10 million to exit the litigation. Another company, Triumph Foods, entered a cooperation deal with the plaintiffs.

The remaining defendants in the case include Cargill, Hormel, National Beef and Smithfield. Tyson and JBS are required through their settlements to provide workers’ compensation data, documents and testimony as the plaintiffs pursue pending claims.

Representatives from Cargill, Hormel, National Beef and Smithfield either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the settlement filing, attorneys for the workers said “the value of an immediate recovery outweighs the mere possibility of future relief after protracted and expensive litigation.”

They said they could seek a legal-fee award from the settlement fund, but did not specify a range or amount.

The case is Ron Brown et al v JBS USA Food Company et al, U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, No. 1:22-cv-02946-PAB-STV.

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