On Tuesday, three former or current employees of Smithfield Foods, Inc. filed a class action lawsuit in the Eastern District of North Carolina alleging Smithfield Foods, Inc. Smithfield Packaged Meats, Corp., Smithfield Fresh Meats Corp. and Smithfield Distribution, LLC violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
According to the complaint, the named plaintiffs, Emmanuel Jean-Francois, Alicia Johnson and Wanda King, are North Carolina residents and worked at pork processing, packaging and distribution plants owned by the defendants in North Carolina. Additionally, the complaint purports that the plaintiffs and similarly situated employees are not exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA.
The complaint states that the defendants are pork producers and food-processing companies based in Smithfield, Virginia that own and operate processing, packaging and distribution plants across the country.
The plaintiffs allege that the defendants paid the plaintiffs and other similarly situated employees a $5 per hour bonus pay for all regular hours worked to incentives North Carolina hourly employees to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The complaint states that the defendants paid all their hourly employees who worked at their North Carolina pork processing, packaging, and distribution plants the bonus pay from April 1, 2020 to October 31, 2020.
However, the plaintiffs state that the defendants did not include the $5 bonus pay when calculating their employees regular rate for overtime compensation. The plaintiffs argue that this is in violation of the FLSA because the FLSA requires non-exempt employees to be paid 1.5 times their regular rate for overtime wages. The plaintiffs further argue that the $5 bonus pay should have been included when the defendants calculated their overtime wages.
The plaintiffs purport that the defendants knew or should have known that the bonus pay should have been included in the regular rate calculation, and therefore, significantly underpaid the plaintiffs and other similarly situated employees.
The plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief, liquidated damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney’s fees and costs for the defendant’s violation of the FLSA. The plaintiffs are represented by Gibbons Law Group, PLLC.