Hiring drivers can sometimes create problems for certain companies. As employers, companies are responsible for all business-related expenses, but those can be difficult to calculate when something (such as an employee’s car) is used for both work and the employee’s personal use.
Most companies have a system in place for calculating how much to reimburse their delivery drivers who use their own vehicles. Sometimes it’s based on the hours the employee works, the miles driven, or the number of deliveries made. But when delivery drivers claim they have not been properly compensated, they can claim allegations of failure to pay minimum wage and unfair business practices.
According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit filed against Pizza Hut of America Inc., the restaurant chain allegedly underpaid its delivery drivers working in the state of Florida. The lawsuit was filed by several plaintiffs in March 2014 on behalf of all Pizza Hut’s Florida delivery drivers. It alleged the company regularly under-reimbursed its drivers for the expenses they incurred in the course of making deliveries, including the costs of gas, insurance, and vehicle maintenance. The result of this alleged failure to properly reimburse the drivers meant the total pay the drivers received was allegedly less than the legally mandated minimum wage. The wage and hour complaint alleged violations of Florida labor law, as well as the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Pizza Hut has recently agreed to settle the lawsuit for $3.1 million. The plaintiffs estimate there are about 2,250 current and former employees of Pizza Hut who are eligible to participate in the class, which makes the settlement one of the highest per-person settlements of any delivery driver class action lawsuit.
Under the terms of the settlement, class members of the non-arbitration subclass will receive approximately 86% of their total alleged reimbursement damages, while the arbitration subclass will receive about 14.5% of their alleged reimbursement damages. Despite the fact neither subclass will receive the full amount they asked for, they still consider the settlement a win. By settling the dispute outside of court, both parties get to avoid the hassle, expense, and delay of continuing to fight the legal battle in the courts.
No matter how strong a plaintiff’s case, no one can ever be 100% certain which way a court will rule. It is always possible that, after spending years litigating in the courts, a jury might rule against them, in which case the plaintiffs would be left with no payout and would have to cover all their own legal expenses.
Pizza Hut continues to insist it did nothing illegal and it does not owe its delivery drivers anything, but it likewise benefits from settling the dispute outside of court. Juries can be unpredictable and it is safer for Pizza Hut to pay a little over $3 million now than to face the possibility of a much larger award ordered by the court. Pizza Hut would also have to pay for all the legal expenses associated with litigating the dispute, and those can add up quickly. It is therefore much more cost-effective for them to settle now, and it gives them the added benefit of getting to save face by avoiding a court conviction.
The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Extended Stay America, Staybridge Suites, Best Western, HomeTown Buffet, Old Country Buffet, Applebees, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.
The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Midlothian and Blue Island. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.
Our Aurora and Naperville overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers mis-classify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.