March 11, 2021

A Maryland federal judge declined to toss proposed class action claims from workers against three poultry companies accused of plotting to keep wages low and also rejected an effort to trim the suit to exclude jobs the plaintiffs didn't do.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher turned down three separate requests to dismiss Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc., Mountaire Farms Inc. and Sanderson Farms Inc. from the litigation on various grounds they cited in December. She also ruled against limiting the suit's scope to hourly, not salaried, work and to leave out turkey processing jobs.

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The dismissal moves involved the second amended complaint. The sprawling suit was first filed in August 2019, when the workers alleged the poultry processors, which together own and run roughly 200 poultry plants in the United States, held clandestine meetings and traded information in an effort to tamp down wages for hundreds of thousands of workers at their facilities. The suit also names two consulting companies, Webber Meng Sahl and Co. and Agri Stats Inc., that the workers allege were part of the scheme.

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The workers are represented by Matthew Handley, Rachel Nadas, George Farah, Rebecca Chang and William Anderson of Handley Farah & Anderson PLLC, Daniel Small, Benjamin Brown, Brent Johnson, Daniel Silverman, Alison Deich and Zach Glubiak of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Steve Berman, Breanna Van Engelen, Shana Scarlett and Rio Pierce of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

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