The Lyon Firm reviews cases of delivery driver under-reimbursement. If you are a delivery driver and feel your employer has not been properly reimbursing you for related job expenses, contact us for a free consultation. Compensation may be available.
What is the Driver Reimbursement Law?
Under federal labor law, in the language of the Department of Labor (DOL), employers are urged to “reimburse a reasonable approximation of expenses incurred for the employer’s benefit rather than the actual amount of expenses incurred.”
Employers may use an “appropriate methodology,” which can be rather subjective. But some cases are clear-cut, and it is no secret that employers would want to pay out as little as possible to grow their corporate profits.
Approximations are generally used for delivery driver reimbursement because exact calculations may not be practical, or possible. It may not be possible to calculate exact vehicle depreciation, fuel usage, especially in cases where a vehicle is used for both personal and business purposes.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state minimum wage laws require employers to reimburse employees for business-related expenses to ensure they receive at least the minimum hourly wage after any other expenses are deducted from their pay.
The federal law allows employers to reimburse expenses at a rate lower than the IRS standard rate. Some companies use the IRS rate but it is optional, not required.
According to the DOL, a fixed expense like a vehicle registration fee might not need to be reimbursed, but variable expenses, like fuel costs, would be. The reimbursement schedule should align with the primary use of the vehicle, whether mostly personal or for business purposes. Many times an employer will approximate the expenses and reimburse delivery drivers accordingly.
Can You File a Delivery Driver Reimbursement Lawsuit?
Several employers have faced legal action regarding how they reimburse hourly employees for use of their own vehicles for business-related operations. Plaintiffs have argued that employers are obligated to reimburse employees at (or near) the IRS mileage rate or pay for actual expenses, or whether their own “reasonably approximate” expense schedule was fair.
Many delivery drivers, for example are reimbursed a flat rate of $1.00 per delivery, yet that might fall well below the IRS suggested reimbursement rate if the average delivery route is four or five miles.
Lawsuits claim drivers are required to use their own vehicles to deliver and incur various expenses, including gasoline costs, replacement parts, repairs, maintenance, insurance, taxes, and license and registration expenses, and vehicle depreciation. These costs, lawyers argue, total far more than drivers are typically reimbursed.
Plaintiffs also argue the costs associated with delivery driving are higher than that of the average driver with frequent stopping, starting, and braking.
What is Lawful & Proper Delivery Driver Reimbursement?
In 2020, the Department of Labor issued Opinion Letter FLSA2020-12, which addressed the expenses and reimbursements for hourly delivery drivers.
The Department pointed to the plain language of its Wage and Hour Division regulation, which allows employers to reimburse employees for a “reasonable approximation of expenses” incurred for an employer’s benefit.
Importantly, the Labor Department says employers are not required to utilize the IRS’s annual standard mileage in calculating reasonable expenses, which can sometimes translate to a lower delivery driver reimbursement rate.
The opinion also noted that employers are not required to reimburse employees for expenses “normally incurred by the employee for his own benefit,” which muddies the water further when a personal vehicle is used for both personal and business-related purposes.
Why Should I Seek Legal Action?
American employees are regularly victims of labor violations that unfairly cheat them out of earned wages or incurred expenses. The most vulnerable employees are those in hourly positions, and generally with little management leverage. With the help of a wage and hour lawyer, delivery drivers may be able to join a class action lawsuit and recover unpaid expenses.
Class action wage and hour cases can result in large settlements or verdicts, and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) estimates wage and hour settlements since January 2007 have totaled over $3.5 billion.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated wage and hour lawyer and Fair Labor Attorney representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of fair labor violations and delivery driver under-reimbursement claims.
Pizza Delivery Class Action Wage Theft
Several plaintiffs have filed complaints in recent years, alleging pizza delivery wage theft. The labor violations cited are very similar to those discussed above, and pizza delivery drivers have long said they are vulnerable employees at the mercy of their employers.
When pizza delivery drivers are not properly compensated for their work–if they are not paid minimum wage and not properly compensated for their mileage–they should contact a wage and hour lawyer to discuss their legal options. Filing class action lawsuits can compensate entire groups of mistreated employees.
What are Common Wage Theft Violations?
Wage and hour cases usually involve multiple labor violation allegations. When unscrupulous employers try to cut corners, it is usually not in a single act but in a systematic way that violates the law in many ways.
Any negligent employers can be held liable and Unpaid Expenses may be recovered through legal action. Common employer violations include: