Photo credit: Bakingbusiness.com
On December 9, 2016, baked goods manufacturing giant, Flowers Foods, Inc., and its subsidiary, Jamestown LLC, reached a settlement agreement with a class of distributors who alleged that the company incorrectly classified them as independent contractors rather than employees.
The suit, which was originally filed in September 2012, is made up of a class of the company’s distributors who deliver the defendant’s products, including Wonder Bread, Nature’s Own products, Whitewheat, Cobblestone Bread Co. and Dave’s Killer Bread, from one of 24 warehouse locations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. In addition to driving the products to various locations, the distributors also stock the products on store shelves and assemble in-store promotional displays. The distributors claim that the defendant bakeries violated the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act and denied the plaintiffs the protection of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Named plaintiffs, Scott Rehberg, Willard Allen Riley and Mario Ronchetti, allege that the class members should be correctly classified as employees and are thus entitled to benefits and overtime from the defendant.
The suit was scheduled for a February 2017 trial in federal court in North Carolina; however, the parties reached an agreement whereby the defendant agreed to pay the class $5.2 million in addition to $3.8 million in attorneys’ fees.
The case is Rehberg et al v. Flowers Foods, Inc et al, case number 3:12-cv-00596, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
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