Delivery drivers face many challenges in the performance of their jobs. For some drivers, those difficulties might include unsafe drivers on the road, employers who impose unrealistic goals, and unruly dogs at residences. A more insidious problem some delivery drivers face is receiving what amounts to sub-minimum wages in violation of the law. If you think that is happening or has happened to you, you should talk to a knowledgeable Atlanta minimum wage lawyer about your circumstance.
One company that has found itself connected to multiple minimum wage cases involving its delivery drivers is Domino’s, the nationwide pizza chain. Delivery drivers have filed cases against Domino’s and/or its franchisees in Georgia, Washington, and New Jersey, just to name three.
The Georgia case, filed last year in the federal court for the Middle District of Georgia, was recently resolved via a settlement. Terms of the settlement, of which the parties informed the court on Oct. 22, 2021, were not made public.
How Tip Credit Wages and Per Delivery Pay Can Violate the Law
There are several ways that an employer like a pizzeria can pay its delivery drivers a sum that amounts to sub-minimum wages. One way is improper use of the “tip credit wage.” The Fair Labor Standards Act allows employers to pay workers less than the standard minimum wage ($7.25) if those workers also receive tips and the combination of their tips and their base wage ultimately add up to at least $7.25 per hour. This is the tip credit.
One way that a delivery driver’s employer can run afoul of the law is by paying a tip credit wage for hours spent engaged in non-tip generating work. If you spend, for example, five hours of your 8-hour shift doing deliveries and three hours doing things inside the pizzeria like prepping deliveries or waiting for your pies to cook, then that’s five hours doing work that potentially can generate tips and three hours doing work that inherently will produce $0 in tips. Getting a tip credit wage for those three hours spent inside the restaurant is a violation of the law.
Another way to violate the law is to pay drivers a “day rate” that is too low. For example, say that the Moldy Mushroom Pizzeria pays its delivery drivers a day rate of $60. (Generally speaking, paying delivery drivers on a “per day” basis is a legal practice.) If the deliveries require 8 hours of driver time to complete, that’s $7.50 per hour and is legal. If, however, the work actually requires the driver to put in 9 hours ($6.67 per hour), 10 hours ($6.00 per hour), or more, then the driver is receiving pay that is below the minimum wage and that is a violation of the FLSA.
Other delivery drivers are paid on a “per delivery” basis. Again, that is legal in general… so long as, at the end of the day, the driver is receiving the equivalent of at least $7.25 for each hour of work.
According to the drivers in the Georgia suit against the Domino’s franchisee, the pizzeria paid them $1.50 per delivery. The drivers were paid only that $1.50. Fuel? Vehicle repairs and maintenance? Insurance? These were all expenses that the drivers had to pay 100%. When factoring in the expenses the drivers paid, the $1.50 per delivery rate left them making less than the minimum wage, according to the lawsuit.
Tip credit wages… per day pay… per delivery pay… these are all forms of compensation that potentially can be perfectly legal, or potentially can be violations of the minimum wage provisions of the FLSA. If you believe the pay you’ve received was illegally low, you owe it to yourself to find out more about your legal options. Get in touch with the Atlanta minimum wage attorneys at the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert. Our firm has successfully helped countless workers pursue their minimum wage cases, and we’re ready to get to work for you. Contact us through this website or at 404-873-8048 to schedule a consultation regarding your situation.