Casey’s now being sued over wages paid to pizza-delivery drivers

By: - November 21, 2021 11:00 am

Casey’s General Store is the latest pizza delivery business to face a lawsuit over mileage paid to drivers. (Photo by Jim Obradovich for Iowa Capital Dispatch)

A second lawsuit that alleges Iowa pizza-delivery drivers are being shortchanged on their wages has been filed in U.S. District Court.

Recently, a lawsuit was filed alleging Iowa delivery drivers working for Domino’s Pizza were effectively earning 35 cents an hour because the company wasn’t fairly compensating the workers for the use of their own vehicles. The new lawsuit is aimed at Casey’s General Store.

Unlike Domino’s, the lawsuit alleges, Casey’s pays its drivers a flat rate of $2 per delivery. Casey’s allegedly doesn’t track drivers’ actual vehicle expenses or make any attempt to reimburse drivers for gas and other specific expenses tied to the use of their cars.

According to the lawsuit, the flat-rate payment plan shortchanges the Casey’s drivers at a rate of 23 cents per mile – a calculation that is based on a $2 payment for delivery runs that tend to average six miles. The payment equates to 33 cents per mile, which is 23 cents less than the IRS standard mileage rate of 56 cents per mile, the lawsuit claims.

Assuming the Casey’s drivers average three six-mile deliveries each hour,  they are, in effect, “kicking back” to their employer $4.14 per hour from their own earnings ($1.38 per delivery, multiplied by three deliveries per hour), the lawsuit claims.

The drivers’ hourly pay is roughly equal to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the lawsuit alleges, and so the effect of the “kickback” is that the drivers’ net pay is significantly less than the minimum wage.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court on behalf of Jolene Greever of Davis County, a Casey’s delivery driver who has worked for the company since 2019, and all other similarly situated employees of the company.

Casey’s has yet to filed a response to the lawsuit.

In the Domino’s case, Alexia Stevens, a former  driver who worked for two years in North Liberty, is suing Pizza Brake Inc., a company that does business throughout Iowa as Domino’s Pizza. That lawsuit is filed on behalf of Stevens and all other drivers who have worked for Pizza Brake, which is owned by Stuart Bjerke of Ottumwa.

Stevens alleges the company’s reimbursement rate for the use of drivers’ personal vehicles is so low that it reduces the worker’s net hourly pay to 35 cents an hour.

The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour since July 2009. Stevens claims she was paid $7.25 per hour, plus 20 cents per mile, while making deliveries for Domino’s between 2019 and 2021.

The lawsuit alleges Stevens was shortchanged 34 cents for every mile driven compared to the federal mileage rate. Because she averaged two or more deliveries per hour, with each trip averaging 10 miles, every hour she worked as a driver decreased her net wages by approximately $6.90, giving her a net hourly wage of roughly 35 cents an hour, the lawsuit claims.

Plaintiffs in both the Casey’s lawsuit and the Domino’s case are seeking certification of “collective action” status – similar to class-action status – under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as actual damages for unpaid wages, plus interest and attorneys’ fees.

Similar lawsuits have recently been filed in other jurisdictions around the United States, including New Jersey, New York and the state of Washington.

The defendants in the two Iowa cases have yet to file responses to the lawsuits. Bjerke has declined to comment on the Domino’s case.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.

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