The issue of wage theft in the United States has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and companies of all sizes are being held responsible for underpaying employees. Wage theft can take several forms, and minimum wage workers in the restaurant industry are frequent targets.
Delivery drivers are especially susceptible to mistreatment. Here are some of the most common ways pizza delivery drivers get cheated out of pay.
Not Being Compensated for Vehicle Expenses
Almost all pizza delivery drivers use their own cars to deliver pizzas. Many delivery drivers may not know they should be reimbursed for the cost of driving and vehicle expenses. Because the drivers’ vehicle expenses are being incurred for the company’s benefit, the company is responsible for paying for them if failing to do so would drop the drivers’ wages below minimum wage. Even when drivers are reimbursed some amount, they may still be cheated by not receiving as much as they should.
The U.S. Department of Labor Field Operations Handbook requires pizza companies to either track and pay each driver’s expenses or pay drivers at the IRS standard business mileage rate, which is currently 58.5 cents per mile.
The business mileage rate represents depreciation, maintenance and repairs, gasoline, and other car expenses. Some pizza companies claim they are permitted to approximate expenses. While there is a question about whether that is allowed in the first place, most employers who try to “approximate” fail to do so properly, often simply choosing a set amount per delivery to reimburse that has no connection to the worker’s expenses.
While these expenses may seem minor, pizza delivery drivers drive thousands of miles per year. Being underpaid by ~$.25 per mile adds up quickly!
Dual Jobs & Tips
Another frequently violated part of the Fair Labor Standards Act states that companies must pay regular minimum wage for work done in a non-tipped occupation. For example, drivers are paid the tipped wage when out on deliveries but should receive the full minimum wage when in the store cleaning, helping customers, or making orders.
This type of employment is known as a dual job under federal law, and it is often manipulated by employers who attempt to pay employees the lower tipped wage for non-tipped work.
Working off the Clock
Another common way pizza companies try to avoid paying proper wages is by pressuring employees to work off the clock and complete tasks before or after clocking in for a scheduled shift. Drivers should never make deliveries, complete prep work, or clean without being paid in full for their time.
Missing Your Proper Pay? Call Biller & Kimble, LLC
If you believe you are a victim of any of the wage theft tactics mentioned above, Biller & Kimble, LLC may be able to help. We have a successful track record of holding pizza companies accountable for wage theft, under-reimbursement for vehicle costs, and other forms of wage and hour violations.
An attorney can investigate your case, help you file a claim for back pay, and answer questions about your right as an employee.