Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company and two other insurers are on the receiving end of a proposed collective and class action in which the plaintiff aims to take on the companies' alleged policy of misclassifying workers as independent contractors as a means to avoid paying overtime wages. Filed on behalf of individuals currently or formerly employed as agency managers, the lawsuit seeks to recover not only supposedly unpaid wages, but portions of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes that the suit says should have been paid by the defendants. According to the complaint, FICA, within the scope of a true employer-employee relationship, requires employers to pay a 7.65 percent share of employees’ FICA tax obligations.
The plaintiff worked for the defendants – who include Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company and Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company – for 41 years, the lawsuit says, until he was reportedly wrongfully terminated in August 2017. The complaint claims the plaintiff regularly worked in excess of 40 hours per week without time-and-a-half overtime pay, nor considerations by the defendants for their share of FICA taxes. According to the suit, the relationship between members of the proposed collective and the defendants was indicative of a typical employer-employee relationship in that the workers had or have “indefinite, lengthy and ongoing working relationships” with Farm Bureau. Moreover, the case claims employees such as the plaintiff were prohibited from soliciting, selling and/or servicing insurance from other companies while under Farm Bureau’s oversight.