From JDSupra, Richard Reibstein reports on a class action lawsuit brought by chicken farmers against Perdue Farms alleging that the farmers were misclassified as independent contractors. Richard writes:
Perdue Farms faces a class action complaint brought in a Georgia federal court by chicken farmers claiming wage and hour violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act due to the farmers’ alleged misclassification as independent contractors instead of employees. The farmers, who raise chickens, which Perdue Farms own, from shortly after hatching until slaughter, also allege that Perdue breached their independent contractor agreements with the farmers and terminated a grower’s contract in retaliation for his contacting the USDA about a potential violation by Purdue. According to the complaint, Perdue “treats all of its [farmers] across the country in the same fashion, using the same restrictive contracts and guidelines with all of them to dictate nearly every aspect of how they run their farms.” The complaint also alleges that Perdue has “devised a scheme to saddle [farmers] with risk and debt, while at the same time directing and controlling every aspect of the chicken growing process….” The farmers claim they make large investments in barns, equipment, and “grow out” houses, often requiring them to take out large loans to finance their purchases, which causes the farmers’ compensation to fall below the minimum wage. Among other things, Perdue allegedly requires the farmers to work exclusively for Purdue; trains, supervises, and monitors the farmers; requires the chicken houses to meet certain precise specifications; requires each farmer to sign an identical Poultry Producer Agreement; requires compliance with its guidelines and bio-security policies; controls the methods used to raise the chickens; requires use of feed provided by Perdue; and controls the schedule of the growers’ work and timing for delivery of chicks. Parker v. Perdue Farms Inc., No. 5:22-cv-00268 (M.D. Ga. July 22, 2022).