This is the second lawsuit our firm has filed against Five Star Pizza. Back in 2020, our firm settled the same claims on behalf of a class of 884 delivery drivers for a total of 475,000.
Unfortunately, however, the plaintiff in the newly-filed case alleges that Five Star Pizza has not changed their vehicle reimbursement policy and therefore are still underpaying their drivers.
The Domino’s Pizza stores operated by the franchise owners are located in Michigan.
On June 23, Five Star Pizza informed Biller & Kimble that they believe the plaintiff in this case has signed a valid “arbitration agreement.” You can learn more about arbitration agreements here.
This means the company has required all of their hourly workers to sign an agreement that, if they believe they have not been paid the proper wages, they are not allowed to participate in the class action, like the one that cost the company $475,000 in 2020. Instead, each employee must pursue their claim separately through a private, confidential dispute resolution process. While we believe the class action process is necessary to ensure companies do not violate the law, many of our clients have fared extremely well in the arbitration process because they have a great deal of leverage.
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This lawsuit, and the similar lawsuit against these same defendants that settled in 2020, alleges that Five Star Pizza under-reimburses its delivery drivers for the costs the drivers incur when they use their car for the company’s purposes, i.e., to make deliveries. Specifically, the drivers claim that the company reimburses a per-mile amount, for example, $.27 per mile, that the plaintiff alleges is not enough to cover the costs incurred by the drivers or the benefit conferred by the drivers to the company. This alleged under-reimbursement results can result in a minimum wage or other wage and hour violation.
Under-reimbursement of Vehicle Expenses
First, the plaintiff alleges that the company does not properly reimburse for vehicle expenses.
The drivers’ position is that they must be reimbursed at the IRS standard business mileage rate (currently $.625 per mile) when the employer does not collect records of the drivers’ actual expenses and reimburse based on those records.
Even if the company is permitted to reimburse based on an “approximation,” as we expect the defendants will argue, the plaintiff alleges that the Five Star Pizza Domino’s stores have failed to “reasonably approximate.”
Failure to Pay Minimum Wage
Second, the plaintiff asserts a claim for minimum wage violation. By requiring their drivers to pay for automobile expenses, and other job-related expenses out of pocket, Defendants Domino’s stores failed to pay Plaintiff minimum wage.
Third, the plaintiff asserts a claim for unjust enrichment. He alleges that the Five Star Pizza Domino’s policy of requiring their minimum wage delivery drivers to cover one of their most substantial business expenses without proper reimbursement results in a violation of common law unjust enrichment. The drivers are conferring a benefit on the company, the company is aware of the benefit, and as a result it would be unjust for the company to retain that benefit without commensurate compensation.