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Meatpackers denied workers’ comp benefits during pandemic

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2022 | Workers' Compensation

Many frontline workers became sick, and a significant number died during the many outbreaks that occurred during the recent pandemic. To support the frontline workers who had to remain at work during the pandemic, the Minnesota Legislature altered the requirements for claiming workers’ compensation benefits to cover the costs of lost wages and medical care.

This change to the workers’ compensation system impacted childcare workers, firefighters, corrections officers, police officers and medical providers. But even though meatpacking plants had many reported outbreaks, meatpacking workers did not have the same success when claiming workers’ compensation benefits.

The rate of successful claims

According to the StarTribune, following 41 outbreaks in meatpacking facilities that resulted in 250 deaths and thousands of cases of illness, zero of the 935 claims filed for workers’ compensation benefits received approval. However, the approval rating for frontline workers given preferred status for these benefits stood at 56.6%.

A discrepancy with reported claims

Not only did meatpacking workers not get pandemic-related workers’ compensation claims approved, but a discrepancy with the claims reported occurred. Attorney John Malone noted that 6% of meatpacking claims happened within an 8-month period while the other 94% occurred over a one-month timeframe.

Even while other industries saw a steady rate of workers’ compensation claims, with many occurring near the end of 2020, claims made by those in the meatpacking industry did not follow a similar trend. Although many of these claims filed by meatpacking workers remain unresolved, an explanation as to why so many did not get approved has not occurred.