Two former employees have filed a proposed class and collective action against 16 companies that operate Domino’s pizzerias across New Jersey and Pennsylvania over alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The plaintiffs, who worked as delivery drivers for the defendants, claim that they were not properly reimbursed for delivery-related expenses, which caused their net wages to fall below the federal minimum wage per hour worked. The plaintiffs further allege that their wages were subject to an unlawful tip credit in that they typically spent more than 20 percent of their workdays performing non-tipped duties inside the defendants’ restaurants.
The plaintiffs’ individual delivery reimbursement rates, according to the lawsuit, are listed as follows:
Plaintiff 1: A flat rate of $1.00 per delivery, until a recent change to 29 cents per mile.
Plaintiff 2: A flat rate of $1.05 per delivery.
The standard mileage rate during the plaintiffs’ employment periods, according to the IRS, varied between 53.5 cents and 57.5 cents per mile, the lawsuit says. This means that the plaintiffs’ expenses were allegedly underestimated, resulting in a decrease of their net wages, according to the suit.
From the complaint:
“Regardless of the precise amount of the per-delivery reimbursement at any given point in time, Defendants’ reimbursement formula has resulted in an unreasonable underestimation of delivery drivers’ automobile expenses throughout the recovery period, causing systematic violations of the minimum wage laws.
Because Defendants paid their drivers a gross hourly wage at precisely, or at least very close to, the applicable minimum wage, and because the delivery drivers incurred unreimbursed automobile expenses, the delivery drivers ‘kicked back’ to Defendants an amount sufficient to cause minimum wage violations.”
The suit seeks to recover allegedly unreimbursed delivery-related expenses, the lawful minimum wage the plaintiffs were allegedly deprived of by being paid as “tipped” employees, and other damages pursuant to the FLSA and state labor laws.