A former Kellogg factory worker reportedly faces up to three years in prison after urinating on a conveyor belt. But, the issue of employees relieving themselves on the line has a darker and more complex history than many realize.
In late November, Gregory Stanton pleaded guilty to the charge of tampering with consumer products, WREG-TV reports. In 2014, Stanton had filmed himself urinating on a Kellogg cereal conveyor belt at a facility in Memphis, Tennessee.
Two years later, in 2016, Stanton posted the video of himself urinating on the cereal line, which was uploaded to WorldStarHipHop.com. Kellogg only learned of the incident after the video was uploaded.
It is unclear what prompted Stanton to urinate on the line and to later share the video, the Associated Press reported. However, the incident needs to be understood in the context of why urinating on production lines has become a major issue at factories.
A2015 Oxfam reportfound that poultry factory employees are routinely denied bathroom breaks, and workers report being mocked, ignored, and threatened with firing if they request to use the restroom.
According to Oxfam's report, urinating on the line is far from an isolated incident. The anti-poverty organization collected stories of people reporting feeling humiliated after urinating on the production line at sites including Tyson plants in three states, Pilgrim's plants in Texas and Alabama, and a Case Farms plant in North Carolina.
"Workers struggle to cope with this denial of a basic human need," the Oxfam report states. "They urinate and defecate while standing on the line; they wear diapers to work; they restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees; they endure pain and discomfort while they worry about their health and job security."
According to The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administrationreport for 2017,workers in all five states surveyed said that their requests to use the bathroom were often delayed or denied.
People working at meat and poultry factories in three of five states told OSHA that they suffered negative health effects, such as kidney problems or urinary tract infections, due to delayed or denied bathroom breaks. Workers in two states said they feared punishment if they used the bathroom too frequently or complained about a lack of bathroom access.
Poultry and meat production giants have denied the reports. Pilgrim's said in a statement to Business Insider in October that denying breaks would be "clear violations of company policy and would result in disciplinary action." Tyson said in a statement it is working with Oxfam America to improve the workplace and that the company does "not tolerate the refusal of requests to use the restroom."
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