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June 17, 2014

Wage violations cited in Peru Pizza Hut lawsuit

Lawsuit claims company underpaid mileage costs for delivery drivers

PERU – The company that owns Peru’s Pizza Hut is being sued on allegations that it underpaid its delivery drivers and violated federal minimum wage laws.

The law firms of Paul McInnes LLP and Weinhaus & Potashnick have filed a class-action lawsuit against Daland Corporation, a company based in Wichita, Kan., which owns around 106 Pizza Huts in 13 states.

Peru Pizza Co. Inc., which is owned by the Daland Corporation, and owns the Peru Pizza Hut, was specifically named in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the corporation paid its delivery drivers on average 22 cents per mile, which was insufficient to cover drivers’ costs to buy gas and maintain their vehicles.

The IRS has said an adequate business-mileage reimbursement is around 50 cents.

The lawsuit says delivery drivers had to pay $2.44 to $4.31 an hour out-of-pocket to cover their vehicle expenses, which cut into their hourly wage and dropped their earnings below the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

“The net effect of defendants’ flawed reimbursement policy is that they willfully fail to pay the federal minimum wage to their delivery drivers,” the lawsuit says. “Defendants thereby enjoy ill-gained profits at the expense of their employees.”

Mark Potashnick, a partner at Weinhaus & Potashnick, called Daland Corporation’s driver reimbursement policy “a terrible minimum-wage violation.”

“I don’t think there’s any rational way to justify paying only 20 cents a mile,” he said. “Drivers go through a lot of expenses paying for maintenance on their vehicles. They’re just not compensating them enough.”

The lawsuit is being considered by a district court in Kansas, and requests the company compensate drivers for their lost wages and pay for attorney fees.

Potashnick said they have asked the judge to open up the lawsuit so other delivery drivers can join the class-action.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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