On the Supreme Court’s Decision in Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries—a Win for Delivery Drivers

Washington, DC—The National Employment Law Project applauds the workers who brought their case to the U.S. Supreme Court in Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries. Thanks to their demands to have their claims heard in court, the Supreme Court finds that corporate-imposed arbitration provisions do not apply to delivery drivers seeking unpaid wages.

Today’s unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Bissonnette v. LePage Bakeries upholds delivery workers’ rights to seek unpaid wages in court—not only in private arbitration. The Court overturned the Second Circuit’s unique requirement that a worker must work for a company “in the transportation industry” to claim the Section 1 transportation exemption under the Federal Arbitration Act. The Court reaffirmed its decision in Southwest Airlines v. Saxon that the exemption looks to the nature of a worker’s duties and not an employer’s business.

NELP filed an amicus brief in Bissonnette v. Lepage Bakeries, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to slow the corporate assault on workers’ rights through the use of forced arbitration clauses.

The workers who brought the case are commercial truck drivers hired by baked goods conglomerate, Flowers Foods. They deliver snack foods and Wonder Bread products to grocery stores across Connecticut. Truck drivers are clearly transportation workers and are rightly held to have their wage and hour claims heard in court.

Rebecca Dixon, president and CEO of NELP notes, “While the decision today does not narrow the exemption, the facts of the case show that companies continue to unilaterally impose arbitration provisions, often with class and collective action waivers, seeking to keep worker protection claims out of courts and out of the public eye. Companies like Flowers that seek to shunt their workers’ wage claims into arbitration exact downward pressure on wages and encourage abuses. Employer-imposed forced arbitration requirements are stopping workers—especially underpaid and Black workers—from taking their employers to court if they steal wages or violate basic labor rights. Congress should put a stop to these practices and pass the FAIR Act.”

Dan Ocampo, NELP Staff Attorney and author of the amicus brief, states, “NELP wrote in support of the commercial truck drivers, who were misclassified as independent contractors and had their wages withheld. Independent contractor misclassification, widespread in the trucking industry, denies workers their basic rights.”

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