Poultry Plant Workers File Class Action Alleging Wage-Fixing Scheme Led to Lower Pay
Last Updated on March 7, 2023
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are no longer investigating this matter. The information here is for reference only. A list of open investigations and lawsuits can be viewed here.
At A Glance
- This Alert Affects:
- Employees who work or worked at a poultry processing plant and were paid on a salary basis.
- What’s Going On?
- A class action lawsuit has been filed alleging some of the largest poultry processors have engaged in a wage-fixing scheme that has suppressed the pay of plant workers for years. If you worked in a poultry plant at any time since 2009, it’s possible that you were underpaid as a result of this alleged conspiracy.
- Which Companies Are Involved?
- The full list of companies alleged to have participated in this wage-fixing scheme can be found below.
- How Could a Class Action Help?
- A successful class action could put an end to any illegal pay practices and help workers get back the wages they missed out on due to the alleged wage-fixing scheme.
A class action lawsuit has been filed alleging that Perdue, Tyson and a handful of other leading poultry processers have worked together to fix and suppress the wages of hundreds of thousands of plant workers across the country.
If you worked at a poultry plant at any time since 2009, it’s possible that you were underpaid as a result of this alleged wage-fixing conspiracy. Read on for more.
Which Companies Are Named in the Lawsuit?
The lawsuit claims the following poultry processors and their subsidiaries took part in the wage-fixing scheme:
- Perdue Farms, Inc. and Perdue Foods LLC
- Tyson Foods, Inc.
- Keystone Foods, LLC
- Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation
- Sanderson Farms, Inc.
- Koch Foods, Inc.
- Wayne Farms, LLC
- Mountaire Farms, Inc.
- Peco Foods, Inc.
- Simmons Foods, Inc.
- Fieldale Farms Corporation
- George’s, Inc. and George’s Foods, LLC
- Butterball, LLC
- Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc.
- Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation
Although the lawsuit seeks to cover both hourly and salaried employees, attorneys working with ClassAction.org specifically need to hear from those who were paid on a salary basis to help strengthen the case. If you worked at any of the companies listed above and were a salaried plant employee, fill out the form on this page. It costs nothing to contact us or to speak to someone about your rights.
How Could I Have Been Underpaid?
According to the lawsuit, the companies listed above conspired to lower the wages of plant workers – and thereby maximize their own profits – in three ways.
“Off-the-books” meetings. The lawsuit alleges that senior executives from the poultry processing companies held annual in-person meetings spearheaded by a “secretive ‘Compensation Committee’” to fix the wages of plant employees. These meetings typically began with the exchange of company data regarding hourly wages, salaries and benefits, the suit says, and concluded with “roundtable discussions” to “agree on and fix” compensation paid to plant employees. It has been alleged that one senior executive at Tyson Foods found the meetings “so inappropriate and improper” that the company stopped attending them.
Survey data. The poultry processors are also alleged to have shared information about pay through surveys conducted by two outside companies. Although the survey data was anonymized before being distributed, the lawsuit says the data was “granular and disaggregated” enough that the companies “knew precisely” who was reporting what data. This “highly frequent” exchange of information ultimately allowed the poultry processors the opportunity to “constantly monitor” each other and ensure compliance with their wage-fixing scheme, according to the suit.
Plant-to-plant communications. The lawsuit also claims plant managers “frequently” reached out to one another to request and exchange information regarding workers’ wages, including plans for future pay. This information was then provided to corporate executives who used the data “to facilitate the fixing of compensation,” the lawsuit says. Notably, while local managers could make recommendations regarding pay, hourly wages, salaries and benefits were ultimately determined by senior executives at each processors’ corporate headquarters, the suit claims.
Attorneys believe that had the alleged wage-fixing conspiracy not been in place, plant workers would have been afforded the opportunity to find better pay and benefits at rival poultry processors. This is particularly true, the suit says, as many of the defendants’ poultry plants operate relatively close to one another, meaning workers could have easily switched jobs had they been incentivized to do so.
Ultimately, plant workers have been stuck with “highly restrained and limited” wages for decades, even when production increased significantly, the suit says.
How Could a Class Action Help?
A class action lawsuit could help put an end to any illegal pay practices and help plant workers achieve fair wages for their work. Further, a successful case could help employees recover money that they lost out on over the years due to this alleged wage-fixing conspiracy.
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