Pizza Hut part of national lawsuit


More than 1,200 Pizza Hut franchises nationwide are being sued by employees in five separate class action lawsuits for unpaid “off the clock” work, meeting and training time.

The suit, filed recently in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, includes the Pizza Hut at 2386 Troy Road in Edwardsville as well as Pizza Huts in Troy, Wood River, Collinsville, Alton and Godfrey.

The employees represented in the suit are hourly-paid shift managers, servers, delivery drivers, cooks and customer service workers, according to the suit. They are represented by Memphis, Tenn., attorney Gordon Jackson. They allege wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act against Pizza Hut’s parent company, NPC International, Inc.

A similar suit filed four years ago against NPC claimed it short-changed 4,500 delivery drivers on their wages. It claimed that wages for delivery drivers at the Pizza Hut locations fell below federal and state minimum wages because reimbursement for vehicle expenses was too low.

NPC managers and executives were paid the Internal Revenue Service standard mileage rate of 51 cents a mile in 2011. Delivery drivers, however, are not. NPC argued that the claim ignores how much drivers earned from tips and that the drivers never informed NPC about the alleged unpaid expenses or insufficient reimbursement while they were employed.

A confidential settlement was reached in the case in October of 2012. The firm representing the company – Stueve Seigel Hanson – did not release details of the settlement. However, according to information cited by Jackson’s firm, Memphis-based Jackson, Shields, Yeiser and Holt, the case settled for $8 million.

In the latest federal lawsuit, Jackson alleges that NPC violated the Fair Labor Standards Act when it required server Skylar Gunn to:

• perform “side work” which accounted for more than 20 percent of the servers’ shift while clocked in as tipped employees, thus failing to pay the servers minimum wage for the side work;

• clock in as tipped employees but perform work in non-tipped job classifications, thus failing to pay minimum wage for non-tipped work.

The lawsuit refers to the suits as “collective actions” rather than class actions. Jackson noted that “Collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards are unique. They allow similarly situated employees to join in the lawsuit if they wish. Yet they also allow similarly situated employees to hire their own attorney and file their own lawsuit, if they so choose.”

In a written statement, Jackson also noted that “The Fair Labor Standards Act makes it unlawful for an employer to retaliate against employees for joining a collective action lawsuit.”



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