Flowers settles Jamestown distributor lawsuit

by Josh Sosland
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The distributor position at issue reflects drivers of baked foods from 24 warehouses in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia who deliver product to customers in a defined geographic territory.

THOMASVILLE, GA. — Flowers Foods, Inc. and Flowers Baking Co. of Jamestown L.L.C. on Dec. 9 reached an agreement to settle a class-action lawsuit dating from 2012. Shares of Flowers Foods surged in response.

The settlement was disclosed in a Form 8-K filed Dec. 9 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (Charlotte Division). Under the settlement, Flowers will pay $9 million, including $5.2 million in settlement funds and $3.8 million in attorneys’ fees.

“The settlement also contains certain non-economic terms that are intended to strengthen and enhance the independent contractor model, which remains in place,” the filing says. “This agreement, which covers approximately 270 distributor territories, is subject to court approval.”

In trading on the New York Stock Exchange Dec. 9, Flowers shares surged. Before the close, Flowers shares had traded as high as $19.95 per share, up $2.92, or 17%, from the Dec. 8 close of $17.03.

The Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit dates from 2012 in an action taken by plaintiffs including Scott Rehberg, Willard Allen Riley and Mario Ronchetti. Claiming Flowers drivers should be classified as employees, qualifying for overtime pay, rather than independent operators, the plaintiffs alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act.

The distributor position at issue reflects drivers of baked foods from 24 warehouses in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia who deliver product to customers in a defined geographic territory.

In November, Flowers announced it had taken a$1.25 million charge related to an agreement to settle a class-action misclassification lawsuit in Connecticut. 

As of February 2016, Flowers was facing 17 lawsuits similar to the Jamestown case. 
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READER COMMENTS (6)

By Suki 6/14/2017 6:36:16 AM
I'm in agreement here in Virginia. They add stops without consulting, we are working 12 hour days, mismanagement and promises of stale relief, they will plus up orders w/out asking, send frozen products (not fresh), It's almost as if it is a legalized form of loan sparking to the distributor. Really disgusted and need direction

By Michael O Louvier 4/5/2017 11:11:45 AM
I am a current distributor in Beaumont Texas and we do get treated like employees I have been charged back for my stale for not been back at the warehouse before 5 pm when there is no where in my contract that states that i have to be back with my stale by any certian time so the letter i got in the mail to join the lawsuit i did turn in .

By Scott Clatterbuck 3/16/2017 5:18:27 PM
Yes I'm a Distributor linked to the Jamestown bakery and there are many of us that have not been included in this settlement.

By Justin mcleod 2/23/2017 6:56:14 PM
They abused us by working us all day everyday without paying plus they took our money with no explanations on why

By Justin mcleod 2/23/2017 6:53:07 PM
No Profanity Allowed, Please Retype Your Comment.

By Kevin dirickson 1/19/2017 5:10:16 PM
I'm a distributor for Flowers Baking Company in Texas. What does this lawsuit do for the distributors from our bakery in Tyler Tx.?