Tennessee farm worker finds severed pig’s head at workstation after asking about pay, complaint states

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The Department of Labor seeks to prevent a Tennessee farm from retaliating against employees after a severed pig’s head was allegedly left at a workstation, according to a complaint.

The department requested a temporary restraining order in a Feb. 21 filing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee on behalf of Tosh Pork employees who asked about their wages.

Two employees, a husband and wife couple whose job duties typically include providing animal care for pigs on the farm in Henry County, asked their employer about pay and later filed a complaint with the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division in February 2022, according to the complaint.

pork farm
Tosh Pork LLC in Henry Tenn.Google Maps

After learning of the complaint, Tosh Pork allegedly tasked one employee with cleaning offices, bathrooms and picking up pig waste — all responsibilities outside of the worker’s normal job duties, according to the complaint. 

Tosh Pork also allegedly tried to force both employees to sign a document forbidding them from speaking with coworkers about pay issues, the complaint states. 

“Tosh Pork’s appalling actions and clear attempts to intimidate and retaliate against its employees will not be tolerated,” Tremelle Howard, a regional solicitor with DOL who is responsible for civil trial litigation, said in a statement.

Investigators also learned another worker who asked about wages was called to meet with the farm’s management and threatened with termination, the complaint said.

Returning to their workstation, they found a severed pig’s head, according to the complaint.

The legal action names Tosh Pork LLC and human resources manager Dianna Rosa as defendants in addition to asking the court to stop the company from violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Rosa could not be reached for comment on Friday.

“Tosh Pork denies it engaged in the retaliatory conduct alleged by the DOL,” Seth Krantz, a veterinarian speaking on behalf of the company, said in an email to NBC News. 

The company seeks to follow all federal, state, and local regulations including the Fair Labor Standards Act, he said. 

Federal law prohibits an employer from firing or discriminating against workers who have filed a complaint, are cooperating in an investigation or inquiring about pay, which is legally protected activity, the DOL said.

During its investigation, the agency also determined Tosh Pork failed to meet employment requirements for H-2A visa workers and corresponding American workers under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the complaint said.

The division found the employer owed five workers $39,375 in back wages and assessed $36,731 in civil money penalties, according to the DOL.

“Federal law protects employees who provide information to the U.S. Department of Labor,” Wage and Hour Division District Director Lisa Kelly in Nashville, Tennessee, said in a statement.

Tosh Pork, which owns 11,000 acres of land and produces swine and grows corn, soybeans, wheat, canola and barley, employs people from foreign countries to work on its farm, DOL said.

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