Aryzta faces class action lawsuit in US over work practices at bakery

Cuisine de France owner Aryzta is facing a lawsuit in Chicago against the company and a third-party personnel provider in relation to alleged work practices at Aryzta’s former facilities in the city.

The lawsuit, that aims to initiate a class action, claims that the two companies failed to pay minimum wage and overtime entitlements and breached other labour laws when Aryzta owned the Cloverhill production facilities in Chicago.

The lawsuit has been filed by a claimant, Guadalupe Cruz, with the case seeking to attach more potential claimants who may have worked at the facilities.

The Cloverhill plants had as many as 2,400 workers when the Swiss-Irish firm operated them. They were acquired last year from Aryzta by Twinkies owner Hostess Brands, which is not subject to the complaint that has been filed against Aryzta and Labor Network.

In 2017, staff working at the Cloverhill facilities were the subject of an immigration crackdown by US authorities. That saw about 800 of the workers forced out. The staff were supplied to the Aryzta facilities by a third-party agency and Aryzta was not aware that the workers did not have proper work authorisations.

The lawsuit filed by a Chicago law firm Workers’ Law Office on behalf of Ms Cruz stated that she packed boxes at a Cloverhill facility and was “typically required to work from 3pm until 3am six days a week”. It added that she “typically worked 60-75 hours a week”. The lawsuit has claimed that she was not paid for overtime, or paid for any hours worked beyond 40 in a working week. The lawsuit has stated that she was hired and paid by Labor Network, but her activities at work were directed by Aryzta employees.

Workers’ Law Office said Ms Cruz seeks to represent all potential plaintiffs who worked at the Cloverhill plants between February 2016 and the date of a possible and eventual judgment in the case – which could total hundreds of workers.

Arguing for a class action, it claimed: “Given that class members are low-wage workers in the temporary staffing industry, members of the class will be reluctant to bring forth claims for unpaid wages and notice violations for lack of resources and fear of retaliation.”

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