Pork Processors Claim to Have Been Fired for Complaints

The three men said Northwest Iowa Pork didn't provide protective eyewear and failed to address repetitive injuries.

Meat Processing

SIOUX CITY, IOWA (AP) — Three workers have sued an Iowa pork processor they said fired them in retaliation for filing complaints about working conditions and talking with state health officials.

Luis Aceves, Jose Moreno and Jose Magana filed three separate lawsuits last week against Northwest Iowa Pork in Sioux City. Their lawsuits, filed in Woodbury County District Court, seek back pay and future wages, lost and future benefits, compensatory damages and punitive damages. Aceves filed a complaint with the state in June 2018 saying Northwest Iowa Pork didn't provide workers with protective eyewear, required workers to stand on cold floors without mats, and failed to address workers' repetitive injuries, the Sioux City Journal reported.

Aceves' lawsuit also said supervisors didn't address his concerns when he notified them numerous times. The Associated Press left a phone message for a company representative seeking comment Tuesday.

State health officials with Occupational Safety and Health Administration visited the plant in July and found no violations. The three said they were fired on September 13 following OSHA's visits to the company.

They said a manager told them they were fired because he saw them banging boxes on a roller table, a common practice among workers. But the manager told them that they had violated company policy and damaged the company property.

The three said in their lawsuits that they were never reprimanded for banging boxes and, to the best of their knowledge, no workers have been warned, disciplined or fired for doing it. They also said that a manager told them the company was looking for a reason to fire them.

After they were fired, the three filed complaints with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, which issued them right-to-sue letters in May.