Ex-Tyson attorney sues in Iowa, alleging wrongful termination

DES MOINES — A former workers’ compensation attorney for a Tyson Foods meatpacking division sued the company, alleging wrongful termination. He accused company officials of making anti-gay slurs, filing false information in workers’ compensation cases, and sex and age discrimination.

Todd Beresford filed the lawsuit in state district court in Des Moines on Oct. 1 seeking damages for his June 2018 firing.

Beresford, who says he primarily worked on Tyson’s workers’ compensation cases in Iowa, alleges he was fired partly because he complained to corporate officials that the company was providing inaccurate information in workers’ compensation cases to deny employees payment for on-the-job injuries.

He also claims the company discriminated against employees on the basis of sex and age by firing four middle-age men in 2018 and replacing them with younger women. He claims his “age and/or sex, either individually or in combination, were motivating factors” in his firing.

A Tyson spokesman said the company would not comment.

Beresford, who now lives near Cleveland, was a witness in a recent lawsuit involving former Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey. In that case, Godfrey won a $1.5 million verdict against former Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and the state of Iowa after the jury found that Branstad and a staff member discriminated against Godfrey in 2011 because he’s gay. Branstad attempted to push Godfrey out of his job and cut his pay when Godfrey refused to resign.

Beresford said he was hired by Tyson as a litigation attorney in June 2000, replacing Godfrey, who was leaving the company to go into private practice and later became Iowa’s Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. The two worked together briefly at Tyson and remained friends after Godfrey’s departure.

Tyson Fresh Meats, based in South Dakota, is a meatpacking division of Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, the nation’s second-largest meat processor. The company has several locations in Iowa. including processing plants in Perry, Waterloo and Storm Lake.

Court: Boarding school’s owner can question accuser’s history

IOWA CITY — The founder of an Iowa boarding school for troubled youth will get another chance to try to discredit a student whose testimony helped convict him of sexual abuse charges, under a court ruling issued Friday.

The Iowa Supreme Court ordered a hearing that will allow Midwest Academy founder Benjamin Trane to question whether the accuser had a history of making false abuse allegations against her adoptive and foster parents. If a judge determines that she previously fabricated allegations, then Trane will be entitled to use that information in his defense at a new trial on sexual abuse and child endangerment charges, the court ruled.

The ruling was a limited victory for Trane, 41, who has been free on bond living in Idaho as he appeals a conviction that could send him to prison for nine years and label him a sex offender.

Amazon announces plans to open fulfillment center near Chicago

CHANNAHON, Ill. — Amazon has announced plans to open a fulfillment center in northern Illinois, creating more than 500 new, full-time jobs starting at $15 per hour with comprehensive benefits.

The online retailer said Friday the more than 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Channahon, about 40 miles southwest of Chicago, will pack and ship large customer items such as sports equipment, patio furniture, kayaks, bicycles, and larger household goods.

Amazon said it currently employs more than 11,000 full-time workers throughout Illinois.

The Associated Press

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