Workers providing deliveries for Pepperidge Farm are independent contractors and not employees, the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on May 10.

The workers — which each owned a Pepperidge Farm distribution route — had sued the baker, claiming they were misclassified as independent contractors, and sought class-action status. However, the 3rd Circuit upheld the District Court’s decision that they were not misclassified.

The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of Pepperidge Farm based on a 10-factor test that Pennsylvania courts have used to determine whether a worker is an employee.

Of the 10 factors, the 3rd Circuit noted the most important is the “right to control.” In its opinion, the court wrote that “control” means more than controlling another’s work product. It means “control over the time, place and manner of performance.”

“In this case, the right-to-control factor favors independent contractor status,” according to the 3rd Circuit’s opinion. “To be sure, Pepperidge Farm — which pays plaintiffs to deliver its products — has expectations about the results of plaintiffs’ work. Still, Pepperidge Farm has little ability to control the time, place and manner in which plaintiffs achieve those ends.”

It noted the workers could choose their distribution routes by buying and selling them, organize their distribution businesses as they like, hire employees to do their work for them, set their own hours and make deliveries when and how they see fit.

The 10 factors are:

  1. Control of the manner in which work is to be done
  2. Responsibility for result only
  3. Terms of agreement between the parties
  4. Nature of the work or occupation
  5. Skill required for performance
  6. Whether one employed is engaged in a distinct occupation or business
  7. Which party supplies the tools
  8. Whether payment is by the time or by the job
  9. Whether the work is part of the regular business of the employer
  10. The right to terminate the employment at any time

An attorney for the plaintiff has been contacted for additional comment. Pepperidge Farm has also been contacted for comment.

Pepperidge Farm is a division of Campbell Soup Co.

The 3rd Circuit covers the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware as well as the Virgin Islands.

Douglas Carpenter, Daniel Kletcheck, Christopher M. Walker v. Pepperidge Farm v. Warehouse Trainers, Carpenter Core; US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit; 23-2372