A lawsuit claims that Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc. and Bimbo Foods Bakeries Distribution, LLC have routinely misclassified distributors as independent contractors, rather than employees, and effectively deprived them of proper overtime wages.
A proposed collective action claims that Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc. and Bimbo Foods Bakeries Distribution, LLC have routinely misclassified distributors as independent contractors, rather than employees, and effectively deprived them of proper overtime wages.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants run the largest bakery company in the U.S. and own popular food brands such as Sara Lee and Entenmann’s. The plaintiff works as a distributor for the companies out of their franchise delivery business in Alabama and is responsible for picking up goods from sales centers and transporting them to customers across the country, the suit says. When hired, the plaintiff was allegedly required to sign a “take it or leave it” distributor agreement that the lawsuit says incorrectly designated him as an independent contractor exempt from overtime pay. As the lawsuit tells it, Bimbo’s distribution agreements were designed to “circumvent the requirements” of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by shifting the burden of employment onto distributors themselves despite the company maintaining “extensive control” over the purportedly independent operators.
Despite the “façade of independence,” the case continues, distributors’ performance and job duties are closely monitored and unilaterally controlled by Bimbo, as are product prices, work equipment, and delivery routes. Furthermore, the case points out that distributors exercise no independent judgment relating to the business. As such, the complaint argues that the plaintiff functioned as an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act and should have received time-and-a-half overtime compensation.