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Bakery could face ‘incremental liability’ in misclassification suits

Flowers Foods Inc., a Thomasville, Ga.-based firm that bakes for brands such Wonder Bread, Tastykake and Mrs. Freshley’s, is defending itself against 26 lawsuits filed by its independent distributors claiming they were misclassified as independent contractors, according to a filing by Flowers with the US Securities and Exchange Administration. Of the lawsuits, 23 are class actions.

It agreed to a $9 million settlement in 12 of the cases, and attorneys filed this month to finalize the settlement, according to the filing. The 12 class-action lawsuits included 900 independent distributors. Of the settlement amount, $5.4 million will go to workers and $3.8 million will go to attorneys’ fees.

The independent distributors deliver baked goods to retailers. The central lawsuit in the 12-suit settlement was Long v. Flowers Foods.

In an SEC filing, the company warned the ongoing litigation “could increase costs, negatively impact our business prospects and the business prospects of our distributors and subject us to incremental liability for their actions.”

The company also reported that courts have ruled on class certifications in several cases involving Flowers Foods. Here’s a list of cases where a judge has certified the case as a class action and there has been a settlement: