Drivers/distributors working for Flowers Foods, Inc. or Flowers Bakery.
What's Going On?
Flowers Foods has been hit with a number of lawsuits claiming that they aren't paying their delivery drivers overtime – and that this practices violates the law.
Flowers Foods, Inc. has been hit with a number of class action lawsuits alleging the company cheats its fresh bakery product distributors out of overtime pay by misclassifying them as independent contractors.
Why Would a Company Misclassify Workers as Independent Contractors?
It’s simple: companies that hire independent contractors don’t have to pay unemployment, Social Security or Medicare taxes – and they don’t have to pay overtime wages. While many companies legitimately – and legally – use independent contractors, others, including Flowers Foods, Inc., have gotten in trouble for allegedly misclassifying employees as independent contractors and cheating them out of due overtime wages.
What Are the Lawsuits Saying About Flowers Foods Drivers?
The lawsuits pending against Flowers Foods accuse the company of disguising its “distributors,” who deliver fresh baked goods to grocery stores and other customers, as independent contractors when they’re actually employees.
The suits claim that the drivers are employees under the law – regardless of what the company calls them – and should be earning overtime because:
The drivers are held to a schedule – they have to be certain places at certain times
Flowers Foods – not the “distributors” – are responsible for negotiating all terms of the retail relationship, including product selection, promotion pricing and shelf space
The workers must strictly follow Flowers’ instructions for pricing, policies and procedures between the company and its customers
Flowers can discipline its workers for taking time off, refusing an order or hiring employees to run their routes
Independent contractors typically have more freedom in their work than regular employees – and the more control a company has over a worker, the less likely it is that he or she is an independent contractor.
The lawsuits claim that because the company controls the drivers’ opportunities for profit by negotiating virtually all terms of the customer relationship, they should be considered employees and not independent contractors. Specifically, the lawsuits allege that the drivers don’t have the ability to negotiate which products are delivered to which stores, whether sale or promotions should be run, how frequently they should deliver to stores, and other terms that could allow them to make more money.
The suits claim that the drivers work well over 40 hours a week and should be receiving overtime pay for this extra time because the company is treating them as employees who they control – not as independent contractors.