- A Memphis man has been sentenced to 10 months in prison after posting footage of himself urinating on a conveyor belt at a Kellogg factory.
- The man filmed himself urinating on a conveyor belt in 2014 and posted the video online in 2016.
- Workers urinating while working on production lines is a major problem in factories, in part because many employees say they are prevented from taking bathroom breaks.
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A Memphis man has been sentenced to 10 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to urinating on a conveyor belt at a Kellogg factory. And, the incident has a darker and more complex history than many realise.
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice for the Western District of Tennessee announced that Gregory Stanton had been sentenced to 10 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $US10,000 in restitution.
In 2014, Stanton 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 has been more than two years since this incident came to our attention, and we are pleased that the responsible individual was brought to justice,” a Kellogg representative told Business Insider in an email soon after Stanton pleaded guilty in November.
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.
A 2015 Oxfam report found that poultry-factory employees are routinely denied bathroom breaks, and workers have reported 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 organisation 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 Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) report for 2017, workers in all five states surveyed said 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.”
The issue of workers’ bathroom breaks extends far beyond the meat and poultry industries. Workers in Amazon warehouses and others who deliver packages for the e-commerce giant reportedly have been forced to urinate in bottles as they struggle to meet strict targets. Some Tesla factory workers have also said they have been forced to choose between eating and using the bathroom.
There is no evidence that Stanton urinated on the cereal conveyor belt because he was barred from using the bathroom.
However, it is important to understand how seemingly isolated incidents can interact with larger labour issues. For example, at the time of the 2014 incident, Kellogg and workers at the Memphis plant were in a dispute, during which Kellogg reportedly locked out union workers, cutting off healthcare benefits, for more than nine months.
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