LIVINGSTON, California. (KSEE) – Foster Farms is facing massive fines from CAL/Osha for alleged violations found during and after a COVID-19 outbreak at its Livingston facilities.
The Merced County Health Department says an investigation into what’s described as the worst coronavirus outbreak in California ended with hefty fines for Foster Farms and four of its staffing agencies.
In the citations totaling $181,500, Cal/OSHA alleges the poultry company failed to immediately report employee COVID-19 related deaths and communicate with employees and its own management about outbreaks and fatalities.
“That could have been me,” said Zakiya Jenkins, a former employee of Foster Farms.
Jenkins quit her job at the Livingston plant.
She was hired by one of the staffing agencies now facing a citation and says she was never told about the outbreak.
Had she known about the outbreak, Jenkins says she would have changed her mind about accepting the job.
A current Foster Farms truck driver who wants to remain anonymous describes what happened when he had close contact with someone with COVID-19.
“At first, H.R. told me you have to get back to work after you get your test results and then I asked my supervisor and told him they were telling me this and he said, ‘No, you gotta stay home make sure you are clear,’ so from that whole experience, I figured they were just trying to keep one plant open and go on as long as they could,” said the employee.
Other alleged violations include failing to implement effective safety measures like face coverings and social distancing and failing to provide training to its employees about the virus, and disinfection.
We reached out to Foster Farms for comment but have yet to hear back.
The state says the company intends to appeal all the violations.
“I really can’t say anything too negative other than them telling me to go back to work after I had close contact with someone who tested positive,” said the anonymous employee.
The state says staffing agencies Human Bees and Marcos Renteria have already appealed the violations.
Intermountain Employment Service says they plan to appeal, and we have not heard back from Staffing Solutions.