By David Allison
Bakery giant Flowers Foods Inc. has reached an agreement to settle a big Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit over how the company classifies its independent distributors.
Flowers reported Dec. 9 it has agreed to pay $9 million to settle a class action lawsuit that was filed in September 2012 in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., in which distributors of the company's products contended they were misclassified as independent contractors.
The settlement reached Dec. 9 includes $5.2 million in settlement funds and $3.8 million in attorneys’ fees. The company said the settlement contains non-economic terms that are intended to strengthen and enhance the independent contractor model, which remains in place. The agreement covers approximately 270 distributor territories.
As of November, Flowers was defending itself in 24 complaints filed by distributors alleging they were misclassified as independent contractors. Eighteen of these lawsuits seek class and/or collective action treatment.
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