As many as 600 current and former route delivery operators may be eligible.
PHILADELPHIA, PA (DATE TBD) – Two veteran Philadelphia-area Tastykake distributors were granted conditional certification by a Federal court to provide an opportunity to hundreds of other Tastykake drivers to participate in their lawsuit alleging that Tastykake has over many years violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) resulting in uncompensated overtime and other unlawful wage deductions under state law, according to their attorneys at Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky (SM&B).
Judge Joshua D. Wolson, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, ruled on January 24th that plaintiffs William Caddick and Stephen Hopkins, both long-term route distributors, shall provide nationwide-class notice to their similarly situated drivers for Tastykake. Tasty Baking Company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of multi-billion-dollar Flowers Foods (NYSE: FLO), which purchased Tasty in 2011. The drivers’ lawsuit (No. 2:19-cv-02106) was filed in Philadelphia on May 15, 2019. The FLSA requires potential plaintiffs to “opt in” to the lawsuit by signing and filing a consent form, in contrast to a typical class action that, after a class is certified, gives an opportunity to opt out of a certified class. The other Tastykake drivers – estimated at upwards of 600 – will have 45 days to opt in to the case.
The attorneys for Mr. Caddick, a 24-year employee, and Mr. Hopkins, who started with Tasty 17 years ago, successfully argued for conditional certification of the FLSA collective action on behalf of hundreds of other distributors. They have alleged that Tasty tightly regulates the manner in which they and other distributors operate – from the types and prices of Tastykake products, to the way those baked goods are displayed on store shelves. According to the Amended Complaint, “Plaintiffs were misclassified as ‘independent contractors’ when they were actually statutory and common-law employees, and were therefore deprived the protections of employee status under the law.”
Headed by SM&B’s Charles J. Kocher, the legal team alleges that Tastykake has violated the FLSA and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL) by misclassifying the distributors as independent contractors when, in fact, they are employees. For instance, Mr. Kocher said they are shortchanged under federal law because they do not receive overtime pay and because Tastykake takes unlawful deductions from Plaintiffs and the class members that violate Pennsylvania law.
Plaintiffs seek the proper compensation that is afforded to them, and their hard working fellow distributors, under the law. They are very pleased with the Court’s ruling granting conditional certification of a nationwide FLSA collective of approximately 600 current and former Tastykake distribution drivers. We will notify Tastykake drivers about their right to opt in to this case to recover wages owed to them in accordance with the Court’s Order.
Charles J. Kocher
Other SM&B attorneys working on the case are Simon Paris, Patrick Howard, and Jeffrey Goodman.