In separate cases, Iowa judges have ruled that Sioux City’s Seaboard Triumph Foods meatpacking plant must pay unemployment benefits to two workers who quit, claiming the company failure to protect employees from COVID-19.
The Iowa Capital Dispatch reported that former employees Yoslady Rodriguez and Maria Montes are entitled to benefits in the ruling.
Rodriguez was employed full-time as a meatpacker until July 7 when she quit.
Before resigning, she had been granted a leave of absence due to pre-existing health conditions that put her at high risk.
She had allegedly been told she would receive her pay while on leave, but was not compensated.
She returned to the plant because of financial hardship and quit again after learning that a colleague she worked near had died of COVID-19.
Maria Montes was a full-time janitorial employee at Seaboard Triumph before quitting in May.
Montes, age 59, has asthma and diabetes.
Seaboard Triumph gave her masks to wear during her shifts, but she was not able to maintain a safe distance from other people at work.
The company chose not to present any evidence or testimony in either of the two cases.
Company officials have not responded with comment.