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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Simmons Foods to Defend Lawsuit


The class-action suit comprising participants in the Christian Alcoholics and Addicts in Recovery program will proceed in district court. The circumstances relating to the lawsuit have been previously detailed in CHICK-NEWS. Christian Alcoholics and Addicts in Recovery placed participants referred by courts in Oklahoma and Arkansas in plants operated by Simmons’ Foods and were subjected to involuntary servitude according to the claim. It is noted that the participants in the program were not volunteers. They were offered the opportunity of enrolling in the CAAIR program or serving jail time for minor infractions relating to drug and alcohol abuse. Participants in the program were paid standard wages which were held by CAAIR against board and rehabilitation.

Simmons Foods petitioned the court for dismissal as the company maintained that the participants in the program were not employees of Simmons Foods. This contention was rejected by the district court with a ruling that “Simmons’ conduct went beyond the normal course of business”. Other claims based on the Thirteenth Amendment and fraud in recruitment to the program were dismissed.

Simmons commented “The ruling on the motion to dismiss does not speak to the credibility of claims. The case now moves to the fact-finding phase where we look forward to demonstrating the truth of the matter.” Simmons maintains that it is committed to providing a safe, healthy workplace where anyone can do their best, to be most productive and be treated with dignity and respect”.

The class is seeking damages in excess of $5 million including wages and overtime pay, economic, compensatory and punitive damages.

Copyright 2019 Simon M. Shane