Labor Department’s Last Opinion Letter: Distributors of Food Products are Independent Contractors

Today, less than 24 hours before the end of the Trump Administration, the Labor Department issued an opinion letter that distributors who resell to retail outlets food products they purchase from two or more unnamed food manufacturers can be lawfully classified as independent contractors under the federal wage and hour law. Distributors of food products have brought a number of class and collective actions against food manufacturers over the past few years, as reported in this blog. One large food manufacturer paid over $47 million in settlements of collective and class action lawsuits brought by distributors alleging independent contractor misclassification. While this last-minute opinion letter may be useful to companies defending these types of cases, savvy food manufacturers that have chosen to elevate their level of compliance with federal and state IC laws through the use of a process such as IC Diagnostics (TM) shouldn’t need to rely on this administrative action to successfully establish the IC status of their independent distributors.

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