Domino's Pizza Sued by New York Attorney General

 On May 24, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against Domino’s Pizza for wage theft and other wage violations against their delivery drivers. The lawsuit is also against three franchisees that own ten stores in the New York Area.

The complaint alleges that Domino’s was underpaying its delivery drivers below even minimum wage, and that they were not being properly paid overtime, either. According to the complaint, Domino’s knew about certain issues in their payroll system, PULSE, which underreported time and tips for the workers. However, these issues were not reported to the franchisees, which resulted in workers being underpaid.

Other allegations include requiring their drivers to pay out-of-pocket for their own job expenses, such as paying for their own gas or paying for bicycle maintenance, and improperly determining tip credit – the franchisee owners never checked if their drivers made enough in tips to justify a tip wage of 2.13/hour, which caused many of the drivers to work for below the federal minimum wage.

Does this situation sound familiar? If you’re experiencing similar actions from your employers, let us know by giving us a call at 615-250-2000! 

Restaurant Wait Staff Gets Stiffed

A Coral Gables restaurant agreed to pay $53,324 in back wages to 27 employees following a Department of Labor investigation. Cafe Vialetto in Coral Gables, FL agreed to pay its employees after federal investigators determined the restaurant did not pay wait staff for hours worked before and after their shifts, violating minimum wage laws. The DOL also found that the restaurant violated the overtime pay and record keeping requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Minimum wage and overtime pay violations are very common in the restaurant industry. Illegal pay practices are so common in the industry that many restaurant workers assume that the practices must be legal. Exploitation of restaurant workers is particularly troubling because their wages are among the nations lowest. Restaurant jobs meager wages make them some of the worst paying jobs in America.

18 Tyson Overtime Lawsuit Consolidated

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered that pre-trial proceedings in 18 wage and hour lawsuits against Tyson Foods Inc. be consolidated. Tyson workers in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas filed lawsuits for unpaid overtime wages. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Tyson-owned IBP, Inc. violated the FLSA by failing to pay workers in South Dakota for the time they spent donning and doffing required sanitary and protective gear and equipment, as well as associated waiting and walking time. 

In September 2007, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals determined that donning and doffing required gear and equipment by Tyson workers constituted work as a matter of law. Still, Tyson chooses to not pay many workers for time spent changing into or out of protective clothing, waiting in lines to retrieve the clothing or perform production work, or walking from the locker rooms to their work stations.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that: “Robert Camp of The Cochran Firm in Birmingham, Ala., who represents more than 1,000 clients in a suit against Tyson, said it could work to the plaintiffs' advantage also to all be heard in one court.”

Tyson Poultry Workers Win Appeal

On September 6, 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that workers at Tyson Foods, Inc.’s poultry processing plant in New Holland, Pennsylvania engaged in work under the FLSA by donning and doffing required sanitary and safety gear.  In the case, De Asencio v. Tyson Foods, Inc. the Third Circuit court relied upon a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision, IBP v. Alvarez, which held that the FLSA required Tyson to pay its meat processing workers for similar donning and doffing work and all related waiting and walking time. 

Yesterday’s ruling by the Third Circuit is an important victory for meat and poultry processing workers. The court held that the worker’s donning and doffing activities constitute work as a matter of law. Tyson and other employers in the meat and poultry processing industry choose not to pay workers for time spent putting on, taking off, and collecting required safety gear and equipment. After the Supreme Court’s decision in Alvarez it is clear that workers must be paid for this kind of donning and doffing. Hopefully, this latest courtroom defeat will finally end Tyson’s steadfast refusal to pay its workers for all hours worked. 

The U.S. Department of Labor should be commended for its work on behalf of the unpaid workers. DOL lawyers involved in the appeal include: Howard M. Radzely, Solicitor of Labor; Steven J. Mandel, Associate Solicitor of Labor; Paul L. Frieden, Counsel for Appellate Litigation. Joanna Hull argued on behalf of the DOL.

Koch Foods Agrees to Pay Unpaid Overtime Wages to Poultry Workers

A poultry plant in Mississippi agreed to pay 174 workers $326,971 after an investigation by the DOL. Koch Foods, the company that owns and operates the plant, did not pay its employees the required overtime premium (time and a half) for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The company also neglected to pay some employees drive time for transporting crews to work sites in violation of federal law. Lawsuits and Department of Labor enforcement actions aimed at illegal pay practices in the meat and poultry processing industries are quite common. Typically, these claims relate to the failure to pay for all hours worked by the employees.