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MAJ Attorneys Secure First-In-The-Nation TRO To Address Unsafe COVID-19 Conditions In Meat Factory

Posted On: January 4, 2021

We are proud to report that on December 28, 2020, on behalf of Foster Farms workers represented by the United Farm Workers ("UFW"), MAJ Attorneys Gary Messing, Monique Alonso, and Laurie Burgess secured the first temporary restraining order (“TRO”) in the nation that compels a meat packing plant to institute safety protocols issued by the County in which the plant is located.

Workers who process our food have been caught in a precarious situation during COVID: their labor is considered “essential” but their working conditions are frequently unsafe. Earlier last summer, Foster Farms’ Livingston, California poultry processing plant in Merced County experienced high infection rates. Nine people, including one family member of an employee, died. The Merced County Department of Public Health took the extraordinary step of shutting the plant down for a “deep cleaning” in September and required Foster Farms to implement regular testing and other basic safety protocols before reopening.

When a second outbreak occurred at the Plant within three months of reopening, the UFW sought assistance to protect their members and MAJ took action on their behalf. After gathering evidence from the workers, it became clear that Foster Farms had not followed the County-issued safety measures, including providing masks to all employees. MAJ sought and won an emergency TRO compelling Foster Farms to adopt and follow all County-issued safety protocols.

The issuance of the TRO was heavily reported in the state and national media.

MAJ lawyers, in conjunction with UFW attorneys Mario Martinez and Edgar Aguilasocho, will seek to extend the TRO in a preliminary injunction hearing currently set for January 29th.

If you have any questions about this alert, please contact Gary Messing in our Sacramento office or Monique Alonso or Laurie Burgess in our San Francisco office.

© Messing Adam & Jasmine LLP