Court decertifies class action by Domino’s drivers

8th Circuit said plaintiffs don’t have enough in common to make up a class

Domino’s Pizza drivers who sued the company for mishandling their tips were dealt a blow yesterday by a federal appeals court.

The 8th Circuit decertified the class action that 1,600 Domino’s Pizza delivery drivers filed, saying they didn’t have enough in common for class certification. The court, citing Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes in its ruling, knocked down a federal court ruling in November 2011 that certified the class.

The drivers filed suit against Domino’s in Minnesota, claiming the company wrongfully withheld gratuities from them and forced them to share gratuities with other drivers in violation of the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act. The class included Domino’s drivers who worked for the company in Minnesota from March 6, 2006, to Feb. 28, 2010.

The disagreement stemmed from confusion over a delivery charge Domino’s first instituted in 2005 for $1 and raised in 2008 to $1.50. While some drivers communicated the charge to customers, other didn’t. Additionally, Domino’s sometimes told customers about the charge—when they ordered online, for example—and other times didn’t mention it. By 2009, the company began communicating to some customers that the charge was not a tip for drivers, and eventually, in 2010, it began communicating that message to all customers.

The variety of transactions "made it unreasonable for some customers to construe the delivery charge as a payment for personal services, thereby preventing one-stroke determination of a class-wide question," the 8th Circuit wrote yesterday, remanding the case back to the lower court.

For more InsideCounsel stories about tipping disputes in the foodservice industry, see:

Starbucks appeals $14.1 million tip-pooling class action suit

Darden Restaurants accused of underpaying servers

Wage and hour suits on the rise, study says

Batali, Bastianich to pay $5.25 million for allegedly cheating workers

Tipping the balance

 

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Cathleen Flahardy

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