Former employees of Flowers Food Inc. filed a lawsuit against the wholesale bakery on Monday for allegedly violating the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Louisiana Wage Payment Law by misclassifying deliverymen as independent contractors, making illegal deductions and withholding overtime pay.
Flowers acquired two independent Louisiana bakeries in 2000, converting deliverymen from employees to independent contractors. Plaintiffs Joseph Ash, Justin Bolton and Matthew Crawford claim a number of features of the relationship between Flowers and its deliverymen indicate employment, including centralized control over marketing and sales, required training, performance monitoring and lack of interstate delivery.
“Flowers represents to Plaintiffs that they will run their businesses independently, have the discretion to use their business judgment, and have the ability to manage their businesses to increase profitability.
“Contrary to Flowers’ representations, as outlined above, deliverymen’s responsibilities are limited to delivering and stocking Flowers’ products for Flowers’ customers,” the lawsuit states.
In addition, plaintiffs allege Flowers illegally deducts the cost of services such as warehouse storage space and marketing and advertising from deliverymen’s paychecks and withholds overtime pay. Plaintiffs claim to have regularly worked between 77 and 100 hours a week without overtime compensation.
Flowers was sued for alleged FLSA violations at least 17 times since 2012, according to the lawsuit.