One of the things required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is that employers reimburse employees for business expenses, such as uniforms, personal cell phone use, and the like. The complaint for this class action claims that JVP, Inc., a franchisee of Domino’s Pizza, does not properly reimburse delivery drivers for the use of their own cars in delivering its pizzas.
The collective class for this FLSA action is all current and former delivery drivers employed by JVP’s Domino’s Pizza stores since April 2, 2017.
JVP owns a number of Domino’s franchises. The delivery drivers for these stores are required to use their own vehicles to deliver pizzas. Expenses incurred with this frequent use of their cars include gas, fluids, servicing, insurance, depreciation, and other costs.
Plaintiff Raymond Fox worked for JVP as a delivery driver from 2014 to 2016 in Hanover, Pennsylvania.
JVP reimburses delivery drivers on a per-delivery basis, but the complaint claims that the amount is “below the IRS business mileage reimbursement rate or any other reasonable approximation of the cost to own and operate a motor vehicle.” In fact, the complaint contends that the per-delivery rate is so low that “the drivers’ unreimbursed expenses cause their wages to fall below the federal minimum wage during some or all workweeks.”
The IRS business mileage rate during the class period was between $0.54 and $0.575 per mile. Other companies estimate that the costs of owning and driving a vehicle 15,000 miles per year to be between $0.571 and $0.608 per mile, the complaint says.
“However,” the complaint says, “the driving conditions associated with the pizza delivery business cause even more frequent maintenance costs, higher costs due to repairs associated with driving, and more rapid depreciation from driving as much as, and in the manner of, a delivery driver.” Because of “frequent starting and stopping of the engine, frequent braking, short routes as opposed to highway driving, and driving under time pressures[,]” JVP’s delivery drivers “experience lower gas mileage and higher repair costs than the average driver[.]”
What was Fox paid? His hourly rates were $7.50 while in the store and $5.50 (with a tip credit) while out on delivery. The federal minimum wage was $7.25 at the time. He was reimbursed just $0.10 per mile for delivery, driving four to six miles per delivery.
The complaint compares that to the IRS’s business mileage reimbursement rate and says that he is being under-reimbursed by at least $0.44 per mile. With three or more deliveries per hour, even a conservative estimate of one mile per delivery means that every hour on the job decreased his net wages by $1.32. Since his wages were already close to the federal minimum wage, this means that he often earned less than that per hour.