JBS and Tyson have agreed to pay a combined $127m to settle a US lawsuit that accused the meat giants of conspiring to keep workers’ wages low.

Under the terms of the agreement, JBS will pay $55m and Tyson $72.3m in compensation.

The lawsuit, heard in Colorado, accused multiple meat companies and two consulting businesses of conspiring to artificially keep the wages of the employees low.

The court said the result of the investigation, which included the “assessment of industry wages, interviewing industry witnesses and extensive research”, supported specific allegations of the “lengthy complaint”.

Neither company responded to Just Food’s request to comment at the date of publication.

Defendants asked the court to dismiss the claims in February 2023, a motion that was denied because the plaintiffs had “sufficient evidence” to support their claims.

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Tyson signed an agreement to provide monetary compensation on 29 January, followed by JBS’s separate settlement on 7 March.

The lawsuit said JBS, Tyson Foods and other red meat companies entered into “an illegal agreement” and breached antitrust law by sharing confidential data of wages through surveys and meetings.

The claimants have previously settled on $1.25m “and cooperation” with Perdue Farms and “substantial cooperation” with Webber, Meng, Sahl and Company (WMS). Another of the companies accused, Triumph Foods, was dismissed from the lawsuit.

Last month, New York state had launched legal action against Brazilian meat processing giant JBS over allegations of environmental claims that deceive customers.

State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the group’s US arm on 28 February.

James called on the New York County Supreme Court to demand JBS drops its 2040 net-zero pledge.