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Tyson employee alleges mishandling of COVID-19 cases

A Tyson employee at an Arkansas plant claims that she was told to return to work days after testing positive for COVID-19.

28 July 2020, at 10:40am

According to reporting from ABC News (KATV Arkansas), Mart Sandoval, a Tyson employee, was told to return to work two days after testing positive for COVID-19.

"What she was told was the expectation is that you come back Monday or you’re just not going to receive your paid leave for COVID, you will only get paid for this week and that will be it,” Sandoval’s daughter Jackie Tobias explained.

Tobias took to social media after failing to reach representatives from Tyson. She tweeted about her mother’s situation and her family’s panic after Sandoval’s husband became symptomatic.

Tobias’ tweet went viral and caught the attention of Tyson and Arkansas Senator Greg Leding, who said that stories like Sandoval’s were becoming more common.

Leding said, ““We have heard from several people who either they or a family member has tested positive for COVID-19 and they’re being asked, or in some cases intimidated, into coming back to work in less time than what the state guidelines allow for and that’s concerning.”

Tobias’ tweet eventually led Tyson representatives to contact both her and Senator Leding.

According to Leding, the company reported that this situation was a misunderstanding. “While I’m certain that it’s possible, that there have been misunderstandings at times, we’re hearing too many similar stories for this to every time be a misunderstanding. Either they have a serious internal communications problem between them and their employees or there is something more troubling happening here.”

A statement issued by Tyson denies that Sandoval was asked to return to work two days after testing positive. The press release outlines Tyson’s COVID-19 leave policy, stressing that employees who are symptomatic are told to quarantine for 14 days and can only return to work if they are no longer showing symptoms.

However, Tobias believes that the company is taking advantage of the Hispanic community, who make up a large portion of Tyson’s Arkansas workforce. Tyson told ABC News that her uncle, who works at a different poultry plant in Arkansas, faced a similar situation in May.

“A lot of the Hispanic community that works for Tyson have given full loyalty to Tyson. People that have worked there 10, 15, 20 plus years the moral is completely down, they feel like they’re not valued employees. A majority do not speak English and they don’t know how protect themselves," said Tobias.

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