Recently the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decertified the Domino’s Pizza Drivers class action lawsuit brought by 1,600 delivery drivers against the company for wrongfully denying them tips in violation of the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act.
We are currently evaluating claims by hospitality workers, such as Domino’s Pizza delivery drivers, who have had gratuities wrongfully withheld from them. Workers may have the right to bring a class action lawsuit for violation of wage and hour laws or may have individual bases for a lawsuit.
What is the Domino’s Pizza Drivers Lawsuit About?
The lawsuit stemmed from a $1 delivery charge Minnesota Domino’s Pizza began automatically charging its customers in 2005 (later increased to $1.50). Some customers were notified of the charge upon ordering, while others were not. Furthermore, some delivery drivers notified customers of the charge, while others didn’t. Domino’s never paid any portion of the delivery charge to drivers, nor did they explain it to customers. It wasn’t until late 2009 that Dominos started notifying customers – in some cases by printing a notice on pizza boxes – that the delivery charge was not a tip for the drivers. The drivers collectively Domino’s for withholding wages and mishandling tips in violation of the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act.
How Does the Law Treat Delivery Charges – Are They Legally Considered Tips for Drivers?
Delivery charges are “tips” under the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act unless it is clearly communicated to the customer that they are not. Specifically, the law defines gratuities as “…monetary contributions received directly or indirectly by an employee…from a customer for services rendered and includes an obligatory charge assessed to customers…which might reasonably be construed by the…customer…as being a payment for personal services rendered by an employee and for which no clear and conspicuous notice is given by the employer to the customer that the charge is not the property of the employee.” (Minn. Stat. § 177.23, subd. 9.)
Under the MFLSA “any gratuity received by an employee… is the sole property of the employee.” It is also illegal to force employees to pool tips or share tips with other employees (though employees may do so voluntarily). (See Minn. Stat. Section 177.24, subd.3.)
What is the Status of the Class Action Lawsuit After Decertification?
Initially the lawsuit was certified as a class action lawsuit so that all delivery drivers who worked for Dominos in Minnesota “similarly situated” could sue together as a class. However, in recent weeks an appeals court “decertified” the class. The court found that since some customers were notified of the charge, while others were not, and some drivers explained to customers that the delivery charge was not a tip, while others did not, the payment transactions were too varied to treat all delivery drivers the same.
Our law firm is exploring the basis for financial recovery by hospitality workers and employees in a wide range of industries who have been underpaid or denied their rightful tips and/or wages.
If you have been unfairly denied wages, contact our experienced labor and employment attorneys at Audet and Partners, LLP. For a free consultation, call us today at (800) 965-1461 or click here to submit a confidential case inquiry.