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Chobani “Fair Trade” Misleading Certification Florida, New York Class Action

Chobani, LLC yogurt products bear a badge or seal that says, “Fair Trade Certified Dairy.” What does that represent? The complaint for this class action alleges that this is a sham certification that is meant to attract consumers with the idea of a sense of fairness even as workers are not treated well.

The class for this action consists of Florida and New York residents who bought the product during the statutes of limitations for each cause of action and the alleged misrepresentations.

The interior sealing foil inside the yogurt products proclaims, “Chobani is the first Fair Trade USA dairy company… Eating this yogurt empowers dairy farmers, supports safe working conditions and animal care, and provides extra income to the people who helped make this product.” The complaint also reproduces a Chobani ad which prominently displays the words, “Fair Trade Certified.”

According to the complaint, “Fair trade is understood by consumers as a system of exchange which benefits marginalized producers and workers to help them move from a position of vulnerability to economic self-sufficiency.” It claims that “consumers are more likely to purchase products, and pay more for them, when assured they are made in ways that respect[] and value[] workers, the environment, and animals.”

But the complaint quotes from a 2017 report from nonprofit worker groups entitled, “Milked: Immigrant Dairy Farmworkers in NY State,” citing “dangerous conditions, low pay, lack of common workplace protections, inadequate legal protections for farmworkers, and marginalization and isolation due to immigration status.”

The report also claimed to be “the basis for an extended campaign calling on Chobani to address conditions in their supply chains.”

The complaint quotes a worker in a different article as saying that Chobani has refused to let workers unionize.

According to the complaint, “The Fair Trade Dairy project has been challenged by nonprofit groups, such as Fair World Project, Migrant Justice and Workers Center of Central New York.”

While the Fair Trade Dairy label already appears on products, the complaint claims that “a final dairy standard ha[s] not been released.”

One problem, according to the complaint, is that 80% of workers live and work on dairy farms with too few workers to be subject to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation. The complaint claims that farms can be certified with a rather basic list of features, such as “safe, well-maintained buildings, fire escapes, etc.” and “limits to overtime”—and even these are “best practice” items and not mandatory.

The complaint alleges that “Fair Trade Certified Dairy standards have been challenged as filled with ‘loopholes that leave out the most at-risk workers on dairy farms.” These farm workers have an “at-will” employment status.

The complaint alleges that Chobani is trying to “fairwash” its business, and that there are other organizations, such as Milk with Dignity, that more legitimately protect dairy workers’ rights.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Consumer

Most Recent Case Event

Chobani “Fair Trade” Misleading Certification Florida, New York Complaint

July 12, 2021

Chobani, LLC yogurt products bear a badge or seal that says, “Fair Trade Certified Dairy.” What does that represent? The complaint for this class action alleges that this is a sham certification that is meant to attract consumers with the idea of a sense of fairness even as workers are not treated well.

Chobani “Fair Trade” Misleading Certification Florida, New York Complaint

Case Event History

Chobani “Fair Trade” Misleading Certification Florida, New York Complaint

July 12, 2021

Chobani, LLC yogurt products bear a badge or seal that says, “Fair Trade Certified Dairy.” What does that represent? The complaint for this class action alleges that this is a sham certification that is meant to attract consumers with the idea of a sense of fairness even as workers are not treated well.

Chobani “Fair Trade” Misleading Certification Florida, New York Complaint
Tags: Deceptive Advertising, Deceptive Labels, Fraud, Negligent Misrepresentation