Flowers Baking Company Lawsuit

Appeals Court Reverses FL Cases

A Charlotte, NC company is facing two class action lawsuit awards in one week as Flowers Baking Company loses appeal of a wage & hour case against KNOXville. In the latest of several blows to Flowers, Inc., the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals today denied the company’s motion to appeal a ruling by the U.S. district court for the Western district of North Carolina, which declared its employment practices in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Table of Contents

The business operations were first brought to the attention of the courts in 2020 when an administrative law judge found that one or more of its employees had subjected another to unreasonable conduct by subjecting him to physical mistreatment such as pulling his hair, spitting on him, and slapping him.

He was later awarded damages of $4 million. The court found that the owner of the business had failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the mistreatment and that the owner had allowed one of its employees to perform abusive and harassing acts on a regular basis.

Two years later the district court ordered Flowers to pay damages in Florida based on its failure to follow the FLSA’s requirements regarding pay rates, scheduling practices, and other work conditions.

As part of the settlement the company agreed to institute changes in its employment practices including training its employees in the appropriate conduct.

However, this settlement agreement was contingent upon whether the business owner had been informed of the FLSA’s requirements when he was first hired by Flowers.

If he had been informed of the requirements then he could have avoided the requirement to pay damages. Therefore, the company is now appealing both the class certification and award in the wage & hour case to the U.S. Fourth Circuit.

This second Florida ruling is the second major blow to the business in recent months.

It is also significant because it is one of the few class action lawsuits which has been brought against a company by a single employee. Most class actions are brought by organizations or individuals who are employed by a larger company and have sustained injuries as a result of negligence of the company or its policies.

Another major factor in this latest appeal is that the decision to overturn the class-action-certification decision was made without the participation of an expert witness.

{in-factuality who had knowledge of all aspects of the Flowers’ business operations. The Third District Judge Richard W. Jones III did not appoint such an expert. Because of this absence, the circuit court cannot find that Flowers adequately the evidence supporting its findings.

“While there is not a strong likelihood that the district court erroneously determined that Flowers had not violated the FLSA, the court must conclude that there is a likelihood that Flowers failed to establish a triable issue of fact in support of its claim,” said the court’s opinion in the Florida case.

“Because the record provides no basis for the circuit’s conclusion, we decline to review the district court’s grant of summary judgment.”

While Flowers is appealing both decisions, it is likely that both cases will be overturned because of the state’s strong preemption laws. The state requires that a court order for a trial to be held prior to mandating that the trial take place in the state where the lawsuit was filed.

The state’s preemption law does not apply when a person or entity brings a suit in another state or county.

The state’s statute of limitation applies. This statute is set at seven years in some cases and allows a person filing a claim to bring a lawsuit within a certain amount of time. The statute of limitation also allows plaintiffs to file a counterclaim if they feel they have been victims of negligence by the business at any time since they first filed a complaint.

While the decision in the FL case may mean that the class-action-certification ruling is overturned, it does not necessarily mean that the other FL case is also going to be overturned.

In fact, it is likely that the Florida class-action certification ruling is being appealed.

In other words, the case is not over. It remains to be seen how the appeals court in the Flowers baking case will decide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *