May 8, 2017

Consumer News Independent Contractor Misclassification

Flowers Foods Distributors Win Sixth Consecutive Conditional Class Certification

May 8, 2017 – Distributors of bakery products for Flowers Foods have scored another conditional class certification victory in their wage and hour case against the company. Carr et al. v. Flowers Foods, Inc. et al. (E.D. Penn.) marks the sixth straight win for distributors, who are challenging their classification by Flowers Foods as independent contractors, rather than employees. One of these lawsuits, Rehberg (North Carolina), has already been certified as a class, and a preliminary settlement has been made. Wanta Thome PLC serves as Lead Class Counsel in all six lawsuits.

Distributors in each of these collective actions have sued under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and related state wage and hour statutes arguing Flowers Foods and its subsidiaries misclassified them as independent contractors, yet treated them as employees. Distributors deliver baked goods to the Flowers Foods’ customers, stock the products on store shelves, assemble promotional displays created and provided by the company and perform most of their duties at the company’s direction. Distributors argue that because the company controls most aspects of their job, they are employees, not independent contractors, and have been denied wages for all time worked, overtime, and other benefits entitled to them under the FLSA and related state laws. The deadline to join the Carr action is May 12, 2017.

These six lawsuits consist of current and former distributors in 11 states, including: Rehberg and Rosinbaum (both North Carolina), Coyle (Arizona), Noll (Maine), Neff (Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and portions of New York) and Carr (Pennsylvania, New Jersey). “The goal of these lawsuits is to recover unpaid and withheld wages for the distributors, and also to affect positive changes within the organization,” said Shawn J. Wanta, partner at Wanta Thome PLC and Lead Class Counsel.

The first of these lawsuits, Rehberg (North Carolina), has already received class certification, and a preliminary settlement has already been proposed. Distributors in North Carolina covered under Rehberg are encouraged to review the terms of the proposed settlement and submit their claim immediately. Click here to find the proposed agreement and related information about settlement. The claim deadline in Rehberg is June 19, 2017. Distributors in other states are encouraged to contact Wanta Thome PLC at 612-252-3570 with questions about the status of the lawsuit in their state or check our website for updates.