A shocking new investigative report from Oxfam America called No Relief, uncovers the horrific working conditions experienced by poultry factory workers across America, namely that workers are consistently denied bathroom breaks. It’s not uncommon for workers to endure hour-long waits on bathroom lines or to be forced to wear diapers during their shift.
According to OSHA, these actions are illegal, and employers are required by law to comply with strict hygienic rules, including allowing access to bathroom facilities.
"Jean, from a Tyson plant in Virginia, says that even though she's diabetic, 'I don't drink any water so I won't have to go.’” Jean is just one of many workers who have chosen dehydration over having to wear diapers during their shift.
Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms were all named in the report, although Tyson and Perdue were the only ones to respond. The Daily Meal has contacted Pilgrim’s and Sanderson for further information.
“We care about our Team Members, so we find these claims troubling. A third party company is already involved in assessing working conditions in our plants. In 2015, we hired an outside auditing firm that evaluates plant performance in such areas as worker treatment, worker voice, compensation and safety,” Tyson said in a statement.
“The anecdotes reported are not consistent with Perdue’s policies and practices. Unfortunately, we do not have enough information to investigate the validity of these complaints,” Perdue said in a statement.
The poultry industry as a whole has also responded to the Oxfam report and has questioned its broad generalizations of the industry as a whole “based on a handful of complaints.”
“We believe such instances are extremely rare and that U.S. poultry companies work hard to prevent them,” The National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association said in a statement. "Although individual practices vary by company, restroom breaks are planned for any production line. Most facilities also employ extra people to cover for production workers who request a bathroom break. In addition, medical-related situations are taken into account and accommodations are made.”