Papa John’s Sued For Failure To Pay Minimum Wages
Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP in Kansas City, Mo. and Weinhaus & Potashnick in St. Louis, Mo. recently filed lawsuits in Missouri and Colorado against Papa John’s International, Inc. and one of the largest Papa John’s. Papa John’s International, Inc. operates nearly 600 corporate Papa John’s stores in the United States. The (PJCOMN Acquisition Corp. and Essential Pizza, Inc.) operates more than 80 Papa John’s franchise stores in Colorado and Minnesota.
The plaintiffs allege that Papa John’s International, Inc. and theare violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Colorado Minimum Wage of Workers Act, and Missouri’s wage and hour laws by failing to adequately reimburse drivers for automobile costs and other job-related expenses, causing them to earn less than minimum wage.
Pizza companies require their delivery drivers to maintain operable, safe and legally-compliant vehicles. To do so, the drivers must purchase their own gasoline, vehicle parts, fluids, repairs, maintenance services and insurance. Meanwhile, their vehicles depreciate rapidly while driving on the job. Some employees commonly drive more than 100 miles per shift. AAA Auto Club calculates (“Behind the Numbers,” AAA communication, 2009 edition) the average 2009 annual cost of operating a vehicle at $8,095.00 for 15,000 miles. This equates to a per mile cost of $0.54.
The pizza delivery industry maintains a practice of paying its drivers a fixed amount per delivery, regardless of whether a delivery is one block from the restaurant or eight miles away in the next town. Reimbursement rates vary amongst chains from about $0.75 to $1.25 per delivery. However, there appears to be no correlation between the size of the delivery area or average delivery mileage and the amount of delivery reimbursement. This “one-size-fits-all” approach, rather than reimbursing drivers based on their actual mileage or their actual automobile expenses incurred, fails to adequately compensate drivers for the true and full cost of using their own vehicles to deliver their employer’s pizzas.