Tyson Foods INC is the second largest corporation that processes meat like pork, chicken and beef. The company was founded in 1935 and was based off of Arkansas. .
The most recent controversy in (November of 2020) that the company has been in, is that one of the managers at their meat plant location in Iowa has place a cash in betting pool amongst employees to see how many workers would get diagnosed with COVID-19. According to CNN there is allegedly one thousand positive cases for COVID, and five deaths with a total of three thousand employees at the Iowa meat plant location.
Out of the five deaths, one of the families decided to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit with the company. The manager at the Iowa meat plant location has also instructed supervisors to continue coming into work, despite the fact that they had symptoms of the virus. Employees also mention that they were not provided with the correct equipment, and failed to impel the act of social distancing. Employees working for this location had mentioned that they believe that the company did not care for their health as much as they should have. The CEO, Dean Banks has acknowledged these accusations and has stated that the leadership in the Iowa location does not symbolize who they are as a whole company. Dean Banks also mentioned that he plans to take action on these supervisors and have them suspended without pay, and have the Iowa meat plant location under investigation.
Tyson foods has been distributing meat throughout the United States for years, they are the second largest food processing company. They also distribute the largest percentage of meat. The company itself claims to be “meat leaders” who provide quality and convenience through their products. The company has a revenue of about $42.4 billion with most of the profit coming from their prepared frozen foods. They have about one hundred and forty thousand employees and forty-two distribution centers.
We are all aware of the Coronavirus pandemic, and we all know that we are told to follow specific guidelines to keep everyone safe and healthy. Especially now since there is
another rise in positive cases for the virus. Dean Banks, the CEO of the company has promised to provide his employees with safety equipment and procedures to keep everyone employed with the company safe and healthy. Although Mr. Banks spoke about safety guidelines and regulations back in early March, one of their Meat plants in Iowa completely ignored these rules. In (November of 2020) the leadership in the Iowa meat plant location has affected the company as a whole.
The managers at this location had placed a betting pool on how many employees would test positive for the Coronavirus. The manager at the Iowa Meat plant location goes by the name Tom Hart is the mastermind behind the cash in betting pool. Supervisors were also advised to ignore any symptoms and come into work, and did not advise safety regulations as frequent as they should. The Tyson Foods Chairman, John Tyson, and local managers Cody Brustkern and John Casey have also allegedly told other supervisors to ignore symptoms and said to them, “You have a job to do”. Various employees have spoken up about lack of care for their health. Due to the lack of safety in this meat plant location there has been one thousand positive cases and five deaths. Isidro Fernandez, an employee who worked at the Iowa Meat Plant location passed away back in April due to the lack of safety regulations, and safety equipment provided. His son had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company. Although Tyson Food Inc, have been in this scandal President Donald Trump has ordered the meat plants to be open due to the missing numbers of pounds of meat.
In my case study I believe that the major stakeholder would have to be the employees that are employed at the Iowa meat plant location. The employees have been treated very unethically. Safety and health are definitely the main concerns in this time of day, and they failed to meet those expectations. There where deaths caused by these unethical actions and there definitely should be some justice. Another stakeholder in this case study would have to be the CEO of the Tyson Foods.
Dean Banks himself is a stakeholder in this case because he did do his job by regulating and speaking out about the safety precautions that need to be done to keep everyone safe and healthy. Despite the accusations, he claims that the leadership at this location does not describe the company as a whole. Now that there are controversies and lawsuits being filed, their numbers will definitely decline.
Milton Friedman is an economist, and a noble prize winner for economics. He claims that the objective for a business owner is to maximize profit for the owner and the stockholders, all while still following the law. Tibor Machan speaks about individualism and puts his input into Friedman’s ideas. He agrees that there is a need to maximize profit but he also mentions that there needs to be indirect goals that do not pertain to profit to reach maximum profit. For my case study, and Individualist would be completely against this situation. By having a manager or supervisor make a bet to see how many people can get hurt does not impact profit at all.
The leadership at the Iowa Meat plant location did not place small safety goals for the employees to keep the work environment clean. The Iowa Meat Plant location has not only minimized profit for the company but has also been running illegal betting pools within the location. Not following safety regulations for the pandemic is also illegal and dangerous. It is illegal to not follow safety regulations in general especially in a work place that processes food. If anything, having unethical leadership that leads to unhealthy situations and death will do the opposite and minimize the profit for the company.
English philosopher John Stuart Mill stated, “Happiness or pleasure are the only things of instinct value, we ought to bring about happiness and pleasure in all beings capable of feeling it.” Meaning a utilitarian would prioritize maximizing happiness for all. Looking at my case study in the eyes of a utilitarian, they would say that this case is super uncalled for and that this company has no ethical values, or morals. There is no maximizing any happiness at all. Nobody will be happy in this situation, employees are at risk for the coronavirus, loved ones have been loss, and even the managers and supervisors running the pool had their jobs suspended. There is no happiness for anyone in this case study.
Employees are now scared to come to work, and the leaders at the Iowa meat plant location have been suspended without pay. Even the customers will not be satisfied due to the unhealthy working conditions at this location. Nobody would want to purchase their meat at a factory that had many positive cases and several deaths from the coronavirus. Also, the CEO of Tyson Foods INC has got some backlash to this case as well. He now has to deal with the aftermath of this controversy and clean up the reputation of the company. There is no maximizing anyone’s happiness in this case study.
Kant was the founder of Kantianism, he has specific objectives that allow you to be motivated by actions that are for good will. Kantianism is mainly about making rational decisions and acting accordingly. Acting accordingly to a Kantian is respecting others, being motivated by a good cause, and doing what is right. In a Kantian’s perspective they would say that Tyson Food INC is a horrible company. The betting pool made by managers and supervisors was not motivated upon good will, it is a horrible idea. Not only was it a horrible idea but it was super disrespectful to the employees and their families. Not only is their health being on the line, but now the employees of the company are looked at as a personal profit. Kantians believe that actions that come from a good cause, is the right thing to do and is correctly motivated for the right reasons, but how do we know what is right from wrong?
Kant came up with three categorial imperative formulas to determine if the actions done are rational. The three categorial imperative formulas are the formula of Universal law, Humanity, and Autonomy. You can use these formulas to determine if their actions are morally right, or rational. All three of the formulas have the same outcome, and if your action passes the tests it is acceptable. The Univeral law talks about forbidding all forms of deficit, like lying or manipulation. In this situation this the leadership in the Tyson Food Iowa meat plant location used manipulation to place a betting pool, and manipulate employees to still come in despite their symptoms. The formula for Humanity is more of a concept that makes us look into ourselves for rationality. The formula for Humanity is basically deciding rationality for our own selves. This Iowa meat plant location had all these people in harm of a deadly virus. There was major harm here done to the employees and their loved ones. Also, the consumers have lost their trust and may be at risk as well.
The Formula for Autonomy talks about having a moral law for your own self, and that everyone can follow. So, for this case study, the managers and supervisors lied and said that they would all agree to following the safety hazards to keep everyone safe at work when really, they did not abide by the rules. In the Case Manual by professor Salazar, in mentions “Kant used various formulations of what he called the Categorical Imperative to help people reason well. If the action fails the Categorical Imperative test, then it is impermissible and therefore wrong to do. If it passes, then the action is permissible, or acceptable to do morally.” (page 22) These actions where definitely impermissible and does not meet the criteria of the categorial imperative test.
According to the case manual by Professor Salazar, the virtue theory was developed by the Greek Philosopher Aristotle. This theory focuses on the characteristics of an individual whereas Kantianism, Utilitarianism, and Individualism all focus on one’s actions. A few characteristics that can help a business grow can be courage, wisdom, honesty, insight, justice, intelligence, and many more. These characteristics can also be known as vices. Vices are the traits of a specific person. There are also bad vices or characteristics that can impact the company as a whole. For instance, my case study has vices that are dishonest, selfish, irresponsible and greed. The managers are greedy and selfish for trying to make money off of sick people and lost loved ones. Making money to maximize their own personal happiness while others are in danger is clearly selfish and greedy. These employees who risk their lives to work also need some source of income, and they should not be afraid to come and work. Tyson food INC is irresponsible for hiring leaders that obviously do not know how to be a leader. The supervisors and managers at the Iowa location are super irresponsible for letting innocent employees become positive for a deadly virus, and even death of some of their employees.
They also where very dishonest with their employees and customers. One major vice that one should have is trustworthiness. You need to be trustworthy to be trusted, and lying about following safety hazards has caused people in harm and even death. They claim to be following safety guidelines and to take precaution when really employees were told to come into work despite them having coronavirus symptoms, which leads to dishonesty. There are also no justified actions being done, there needs to be justice within a company. Having justice within a business means that there is hard work being done, quality products, good ideas, and fair practices. At the Iowa meat plant location there was lack of good ideas and fair practice. It is never a good idea to put employees at risk of their health and safety especially for personal profit, that is not at all a fair practice. Although I cannot say that these employees do not work hard at this location, I can say that the quality of the products are now going to be overlooked due to the dishonesty.
Justified Ethics Evaluation
After analyzing my case and reviewing the case with the theories that where mentioned, I come to the conclusion that Tyson Food Inc has not been as ethical as they should be. The employees at the Iowa Meat Plant location have been treated very badly, and have been disrespected and put in danger for a deadly virus. The leadership at the location have been dishonest, irresponsible and selfish. They should be taking action on safety regulations now more than ever. Not only did they put their employees at risk, but they put their employee’s family, consumers, and the company as a whole in a risky situation. The unethical actions that have taken place at this location have caused people to get sick, and even death. As the company as a whole the revenue for the company will decline and they will have a hard time coming back from this, they need to make a plan to gain profit.
Company Action Plan
Tyson Food INC has been around for years, they were founded in 1935 so the company is definitely successful. This recent controversy and lawsuit can cause a bad reputation, but I believe that they can come back from this. The issue is that Tyson Food Inc now has to have redemption from not having safety regulations, and mistreating their employees and putting them in danger. Having a betting pool that puts employees’ health at risk is not only illegal but unethical. As mentioned, Mr. Banks, the CEO of the company has said that the leadership at this location does not define the company as a whole. I believe that they should take a closer look at people who are actually being hired and moving up in the company. Tyson Food INC should also market that they are being safer and following healthy guidelines. They need to have employee and consumer safety, responsibility, and be more cautious with the healthy regulations to be redeemed. I also think that they should be checking in on their locations more frequently than before because of the pandemic. The company should have meetings to clearly discuss safety regulations, and be trained on how to proceed with the new protocols. By making sure that they are hiring trustworthy employees they need to make sure that their leadership is trustworthy as well. As Tyson Food INC controversy came out, they need to create more marketing to showcase how they will be safety processing food for consumers, all while keeping the employees safe and clean.
At the Iowa Meat Plant location, they should shut down for two weeks, and clean out the area before allowing employees to come back to this site. When they reopen, they must do temperature check ins and have employees be tested for the virus. Nobody should have paranoia coming into work. Human Resources for the company should be stricter about working conditions and making sure that everyone is following safety guidelines. To gain profit after this controversy, Tyson Foods INC show be showing their customers that they are doing the best that they can to keep their work environment clean. Leadership needs to be stricter about guidelines and safety regulations now more than ever.
“What We Do.” Tyson Foods, www.tysonfoods.com/who-we-are/our-story/what-we-do.
Wiener-Bronner, Danielle. “Managers at Tyson Meat Plant Had Betting Pool on How Many Workers Would Get Covid, Lawsuit Alleges.” CNN, Cable News Network, 19 Nov. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/11/19/business/tyson-coronavirus-lawsuit/index.html.
Romo, Vanessa. “Tyson Managers Suspended After Allegedly Betting If Workers Would Contract COVID.” NPR, NPR, 20 Nov. 2020, www.npr.org/2020/11/19/936905707/tyson-managers-suspended-after-allegedly-betting-if-workers-would-contract-covid.
Salazar, Heather. The Case Manual. 2014.
“Tyson Food Managers Bet on Workers Getting Covid-19, Lawsuit Says.” BBC News, BBC, 19 Nov. 2020, www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55009228.