ATLANTA — After being slapped with 18 unpaid overtime lawsuits across two-dozen states by its delivery drivers, nationwide baking company Flowers Foods faces a federal investigation over its employment practices by the Department of Labor.
Authorities look to find out whether the company engaged in widespread violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal law governing everything from minimum wage, to overtime payments and benefits.
The trouble for Flowers Foods began in January 2016 when the company’s drivers filed their suits alleging they were improperly misclassified as independent contractors by the company in a ruse to avoid overtime pay and other benefits. While it could be some time before all the claims are resolved, other similar lawsuits across the country by FedEx and Uber drivers have set a strong precedent which could mean a big payday from Flowers.
Media outlets report the payout could be as high as $1 billion if all the claims are resolved in the plaintiffs’ favor. That figure would include back wages, penalties, interest, and attorney’s fees as well as the company giving the drivers payouts to buy back their vehicles and delivery routes.
Independent Contractor Misclassification
The heart of the FLSA investigations will most likely examine whether Flowers Foods intentionally engaged in job misclassification to avoid complying with federal labor laws. Under the FLSA, independent contractors are overtime exempt and are not entitled to other benefits like sick leave and medical benefits.
However, federal labor laws set certain standards independent contractors must meet in order to be exempt from overtime pay. In addition to a 20-factor test established by the IRS, the Department of Labor also issued a memo last year to business across the country providing even more clarity about compliance with the law.
Under the FLSA, employers who willingly violated the Act could be forced to pay back as much as three years of unpaid wages and be subject to penalties and interest on back pay. Federal courts also have the power to impose injunctions to prevent similar bad behavior by the employer in the future.
Truck Driver Unpaid Overtime Lawsuits
Call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you feel that you and and other employees believe that your wage rights are being violated under the FLSA. Our top-rated team of unpaid wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action to help you seek justice.
Our office will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. Because strict time limitations apply for filing these types of claims, we advise you contact our experienced unpaid overtime wage attorneys at your earliest convenience and preserve your legal rights.