The Team Honey Badger franchise operates over 100 Domino’s stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Iowa.
The franchise is operated by College Town Pizza, Inc., Route 41 Pizza, LLC, 5 Star Pizza, LLC, Two Ten Twenty Pizza, Inc., and Dough Management Inc.
Our firm first filed suit against Team Honey Badger in April 2019, in a case called Slaughter, et al. v. 5 Star Pizza, LLC, et al., No. 2:19-cv-1456 (S.D. Ohio). We wrote a blog post about the case at the time, which you can read here. The claim then was the same one current Team Honey Badger drivers make today: the drivers allege that the company does not adequately reimburse them for the costs of using their personal cars to make deliveries.
The five delivery drivers who were part of Slaughter eventually pursued their claims in arbitration. In December 2019, the court approved settlements for those five drivers that averaged more than $12,000 each in damages, fees, and costs.
Since the Slaughter case settled, our firm has represented, and resolved, numerous other Team Honey Badger delivery drivers in arbitration proceedings. Learn more about what “arbitration” means here.
Most recently, in December 2021, our firm filed another class action lawsuit against the Honey Badger Domino’s stores. Mainville v. College Town Pizza, Inc., et al., No. 21-cv-2699 (D.Minn.).
The plaintiff asserts claims on behalf of himself, all delivery drivers who decide to opt in to the case to pursue their federal law claims, and all delivery drivers employed by the Team Honey Badger stores in Wisconsin since December 2019.
As we expected, the Team Honey Badger Domino’s stores filed a motion claiming that the named plaintiff, Mr. Mainville, cannot maintain this case as a class action because he has signed an arbitration agreement with a “class action waiver.”
We intend to oppose the company’s request. Our response brief is due on April 26, 2022. We will share our arguments here once they are filed. It will then be up to the court to decide whether the defendants’ arbitration agreement is valid and enforceable or if the case can proceed as a class case.
Even if the arbitration agreement is enforced, as we know from previous disputes with Team Honey Badger, the plaintiff will still have a claim to unpaid wages and damages. The agreement just requires the plaintiff to pursue those claims through a private dispute resolution process rather than through the court system with a judge and jury. Through this process we have successfully helped over a dozen Team Honey Badger drivers collect their back wages from the company. In fact, many of these drivers get even better results in settling their claims because of the costs of arbitration that fall on the company.
This lawsuit, and the similar lawsuit and arbitrations asserted against the Team Honey Badger Domino’s before it, alleges that the franchise 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 (often around $.30 per mile) that is not enough to cover the drivers’ vehicle expenses. This alleged under-reimbursement results can result in a minimum wage or other wage and hour violation.
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 $.585 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 Honey Badger Domino’s stores have failed to “reasonably approximate.”
Second, the plaintiff alleges the company failed to properly claim a “tip credit” against the minimum wage because they failed to actually pay the wage rate they promised to pay, after accounting for under-reimbursement expenses.
In addition to under-reimbursed expenses, the drivers claim they are entitled to the difference between full minimum wage and the “tipped wage rate” the employer claimed to pay, because the company failed to actually pay that tipped wage rate. For example, if a driver was paid $5.00 per hour on the road in a state where minimum wage was $7.25, they would be entitled to $2.25 for each hour worked ($7.25-$5.00=$2.25) if the plaintiff prevails on this claim.
Third, the plaintiff asserts a claim for unjust enrichment. He alleges that the Team Honey Badger Domino’s stores unfairly benefit by requiring their minimum wage delivery drivers to cover one of their most costly business expenses without proper reimbursement. The drivers are conferring a benefit on the company, the company is aware of the benefit, and it would be unjust for the company to retain that benefit without commensurate compensation.
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ADVERTISING ONLY: The information on this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
Past results obtained by Biller & Kimble, LLC are no guarantee of future results. Each case or matter is different and must be judged on its own merits.