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Am J Ind Med. 2009 Jan;52(1):37-48. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20643.

Evidence of organizational injustice in poultry processing plants: Possible effects on occupational health and safety among Latino workers in North Carolina.

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  • 1Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, USA.



Over 250,000 workers are employed in poultry processing, one of the most dangerous industries in the US. These jobs are increasingly held by immigrant workers who are frequently undocumented, lack knowledge of workers' rights to workplace safety, and who are reluctant to pursue their rights. This situation creates the potential for organizational injustice, made visible through abusive supervisory practices, and leads to situations in which occupational illnesses and injuries are likely to occur.


This paper draws on data collected during the research phases of a community-based participatory research and social justice project. Two hundred survey interviews and 26 in-depth interviews were collected in representative, community-based samples in western North Carolina. Analyses describe associations between one aspect of organizational injustice, abusive supervision, and worker injuries.


Workers' reports of abusive supervision are associated with a variety of specific and summary health indicators. The associations are stronger for women than for men. These suggest that the use of relative power within the plant may be the basis for injuries and illnesses. Three types of power relations are described that form the basis for these abusive interactions in the plant: ethnicity (American vs. Latino), immigration status ("good papers" vs. undocumented), and rank (supervisor vs. worker). Two factors modify these relations: kinship (preferences and privileges for family members) and gender.


Among Latino immigrants working in poultry plants, power differences reflecting organizational injustice in the form of abusive supervision may promote occupational illnesses and injuries, particularly for women.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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