Pizza Hut of Arizona, Inc. and Pizza Hut of Cottonwood, Inc. are among the defendants in a lawsuit in which the plaintiff claims the companies failed to reimburse delivery drivers for the “reasonably approximate costs” of the use of their vehicles. The defendants, who include the companies’ two owners, allegedly use a flawed method to determine the rates at which delivery drivers should be compensated for car costs – a method that the suit claims recoups drivers at an unreasonably low rate for expenses incurred delivering food. All this, the lawsuit alleges, has caused drivers’ wages to fall below the federal minimum rate during “some or all workweeks.”
According to the lawsuit, the defendants’ driver reimbursement policy dictates the companies will repay workers on a per-delivery basis. The plaintiff argues, however, this per-delivery reimbursement policy amounts to below the IRS business mileage reimbursement rate—between $.535 and $.575 per mile, the suit says. The nature of the food delivery business, the lawsuit posits, calls for the defendants to go slightly above the IRS’s mileage reimbursement numbers. From the complaint:
[The defendants’] reimbursement policy does not reimburse delivery drivers for even their ongoing out-of-pocket expenses, much less other costs they incur to own and operate their vehicle, and thus [the defendants] uniformly fail to reimburse its [sic] delivery drivers at any reasonable approximation of the cost of owning and operating their vehicles for [the defendants’] benefit.
[The defendants’] systematic failure to adequately reimburse automobile expenses constitutes a 'kickback' to Defendants such that the hourly wages it pays to [the plaintiff] and [the defendants’] other delivery drivers are not paid free and clear of all outstanding obligations to [the defendants.]”
The plaintiff claims that during her time delivering for Pizza Hut—November 2012 through January 2018—she was paid as low as $5.35 per hour, including a tip credit.