Papa John's Franchisee Facing Driver Reimbursement Class Action Lawsuit

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Santa Clara, CA: A Papa John’s franchisee in North and South Carolina are facing an employment class action lawsuit filed by delivery drivers who allege the 21 stores are in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

According to the class action, filed by lead plaintiff William Prince, the defendant, franchisee Perfect Delivery Inc, failed to pay the drivers fairly for driving costs, such that that Perfect's "flawed method" to determine driving reimbursement rates causes drivers' pay to fall below the federal minimum wage during some or all workweeks.

Specifically, the plaintiffs allege Perfect Delivery hires delivery drivers who use their own cars to deliver pizza. It then reimburses them based on between 5 percent and 6 percent of a customer's price of the order delivered, excluding the delivery charge and sales tax, which comes to less than $1 per delivery.

According to the lawsuit, the average price of an order is $16.50, and an average round trip totals seven miles. Therefore, the reimbursements calculated by the defendants’ method equates to a per-mile reimbursement of 14 cents, falling well short of the IRS' standard business mileage reimbursement rate of 53.5 cents and 57.5 cents per mile, "or any other reasonable approximation of the cost to own and operate a motor vehicle," the complaint states.

In the lawsuit, Prince states he was employed by Perfect Delivery as a driver at its Papa John's store in Easley, South Carolina, from about October 2015 to December 2016 and following that from about December 2016 to February 2017 as a manager at the same store while he continued to make deliveries at the same time.

The plaintiffs allege that Perfect Delivery's systematic failure to adequately reimburse its drivers for their vehicle expenses amounted to a "kickback" to the franchisee. The complaint also states that although Prince was paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, his pay was effectively reduced due to the defendant's low mileage reimbursement rate.

"Plaintiff consistently 'kicked back' to defendants approximately $5.60 per hour ($2.80 per delivery x 2 deliveries per hour), for an effective hourly wage rate of about $1.65 per hour ($7.25 per hour nominal wage rate - $5.60 per hour 'kickback') or less," the complaint states.

William Prince is represented by John Plyler Mann Jr. of Mann Law Firm and Richard M. Paul III of Paul LLP.

The case is Prince v. Perfect Delivery Inc. et al., case number 8:17-cv-01950, in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.

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