Court orders Foster Farms to provide COVID protections

A judge granted a temporary restraining order against Foster Farms, in which the company must provide its workers in Livingston, California, with masks and abide by a set of rules that will protect its workers from COVID-19.

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Jason Morrison | Freeimages.com
Jason Morrison | Freeimages.com

A judge granted a temporary restraining order against Foster Farms, in which the company must provide its workers in Livingston, California, with masks and abide by a set of rules that will protect its workers from COVID-19.

The court action occurred during a hearing held on December 23 in the Superior Court of Merced County, and the order will last until January 29, according to a report from CBS News.

The hearing was held after the United Farm Workers (UFW) union filed a lawsuit which included the request for the restraining order that called on Foster Farms to “comply with clear COVID safety rules that the company has refused to follow, despite nine workers at the plant dying and over 400 becoming infected.”

UFW claims Foster Farms failed to create six feet of distance between line workers, failed in many cases to provide adequate masks, and failed to adequately inform workers of sick leave options.

According to the CBS report, the order would require Foster Farms to provide its Livingston poultry plant workers with face masks and make sure that the employees wore them in circumstances in which social distancing wasn’t possible. The order also requires other hygiene measures, including temperature and health screenings for all people before they enter the plant, and installing physical dividers in break rooms and on production lines.

The plant also must inform all employees in English, Spanish and Punjabi of testing requirements, outbreaks and safety training.

A statement from Foster Farms said the company has been working with Merced County health officials and that some of the measures contained in the court order are already in place.

The Livingston plant was closed during the first week of September, following an order from the Merced County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) to do so until it was deemed safe to reopen. At the time, more than 350 employees had tested positive, including eight fatalities.

View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

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