Federal Case Against ConAgra Could Bring Record Amount of Plantiffs

As a federal lawsuit against ConAgra Foods' Russellville plant gets started, 768 current and former hourly employees of the food manufacturer have decided to participate.

A court watcher said the case could have the highest number of plaintiffs in Arkansas who have decided to opt into a collective action lawsuit. A collective action is similar to a class-action complaint but with a few key differences. One of those: A person who doesn’t join the case can file his own lawsuit later. In a class-action case, however, those who fail to add their names to the lawsuit lose their right to sue over the issue.

In the ConAgra case, the plaintiffs allege they weren’t paid for the time it took them to put on their protective equipment or for taking it off after their shifts at the prepared foods plant, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock. There are about 1,150 hourly employees at the plant.

The plaintiffs said in the lawsuit that they should have been paid for the time spent in connection with putting on the gear because it was “indispensable” to their work.

The plaintiffs are seeking wages and overtime pay for the work, according to the lawsuit, filed by attorney Josh Sanford of Little Rock. The lawsuit didn’t list a specific dollar amount for how much they were seeking.

ConAgra denied any wrongdoing in its court filings and asked that the case be dismissed.