A lawsuit claims the operators of certain Domino’s pizza restaurants in New York have failed to properly reimburse delivery drivers for business expenses.
The 16-page complaint alleges defendants Fat Dough, Inc.; Shan’s Pizza, Inc.; Big Al’s Pizza, Inc.; and Happy People Pizza, LLC have under-reimbursed drivers for the costs of operating and maintaining their own vehicles to make deliveries, such that the workers’ pay has fallen below the federal minimum wage. According to the suit, the unreimbursed expenses—including the costs of gas, vehicle parts and fluid, repair and maintenance services, insurance, depreciation and other delivery-related expenses—constitute an unlawful “kickback” to the defendants and cause workers to not be paid “free and clear of all outstanding obligations” to their employers.
“In sum,” the cases says, “Defendants’ reimbursement policy and methodology fail to reflect the realities of delivery drivers’ automobile expenses.”
The lawsuit alleges the defendants’ reimbursement rates sat well below the applicable IRS business mileage rate, which ranged between $.535 and $.58 per mile during the relevant time period. Per the case, the IRS business mileage rate represents a reasonable approximation of the costs of owning and operating a vehicle. The driving conditions associated with delivering pizzas, however, cause drivers to incur more frequent maintenance costs, higher repair costs and more rapid depreciation given they must frequently stop and start the engine, brake often and take mostly short routes instead of driving on a highway, the suit attests.
The plaintiff, who worked for the defendants at a Utica, New York Domino’s, says he was reimbursed $1.00 per delivery and drove 16 to 20 miles per delivery.
“This means plaintiff was getting paid between $.06 to .05 per mile ($1.00 divided by 16 and 20 miles respectively),” the complaint explains.
The lawsuit argues that even a conservative estimate of the plaintiff’s actual expenses indicates he was under-reimbursed by at least $4.90 for each hour on the job. Given that the plaintiff was paid at or close to the federal minimum wage, his unreimbursed expenses were sufficient to cause minimum wage violations, the case attests.
The suit claims the defendants applied the same “flawed policy and methodology” to all delivery drivers’ wages and as a result have “enjoy[ed] ill-gained profits at the expense of [their] employees.”
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