Misclassified as Independent Contractors : Class Certification Granted

Misclassified as Independent Contractors : Class Certification Granted

In the summer of 2014, Adam Shafran of Rudolph Friedmann and co-counsel in Boston and San Francisco filed a putative class action complaint alleging that all former and current California based distributors of Pepperidge Farm, Inc. (a/k/a Sales Development Associates) have been misclassified as independent contractors by Pepperidge Farm.

The class action complaint seeks to recover damages on behalf of all California based Pepperidge Farm distributors who have been misclassified as independent contractors. On April 11, 2017, the United States District Court for the Central District of California granted the Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, and certified two subclasses comprised of former and current Pepperidge Farm distributors.

To obtain class certification under California law (and the laws of many other states), plaintiffs must demonstrate that the defendant retained the uniform right to control. In this regard, the U.S. District Court made the following critical holding in its decision granting class certification:

“The distinctions among Distributors identified by Pepperidge Farm do not arise from the Agreements between those Distributors and Pepperidge Farm. These Agreements are uniform on all matters material to the present issues. Instead, Pepperidge Farm argues the actual degree of control exercised by Pepperidge Farm may vary among Distributors. Although such variations may reflect the right to control, this evidence is more relevant to the exercise of control. It is the former that is material. ‘[W]hat matters under the common law is not how much control a hirer exercises, but how much control the hirer retains the right to exercise.’ Because the scope of the right to control is governed by the Agreements, which are common, and evidence of actual operational control or independence can be presented at a trial, this factor weighs in favor of finding predominance as to this claim.”

A full copy of the District Court’s decision can be found below. If you are an independent distributor or engaged in any other line of work in which you believe you are being misclassified as an independent contractor, contact Attorney Shafran to learn more about your rights.

PF CA Class Cert Decision

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