Domino’s faces trial over alleged underpayment of workers

The company 'strongly disputes' the lawsuit's claims

Domino’s faces trial over alleged underpayment of workers

Domino’s Pizza is set to face trial after a national wages scandal that allegedly left tens of thousands of its workers paid less than the minimum award wage. According to The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), the class action, brought by the law firm Phi Finney McDonald, claimed that Domino’s drivers and in-store workers were underpaid up to $11 an hour, or amounting to $10,000 a year.

Claims of exploiting workers

Among the claims in the case is that Domino’s wrongly ordered its franchisees to pay workers based on the workplace agreements that the company reached with the Shop Assistants Union (SDA) instead of the fast-food award, SMH reported. This means that workers are paid significantly less than the minimum award wage.

In 2016, the investment bank Deutsche estimated that the pizza giant was earning over $30mil per year in wages by paying its staff under the workplace agreements rather than the fast-food award. Abhinav Rana, who was a temporary migrant worker from India, worked as a driver and in-store at three Domino’s stores in Melbourne from 2016 to 2018. 

According to SMH, Rana was paid a flat $16 per hour as a casual employee working 25 to 30 hours per week, and if he was paid award wages, he would have received an average of $25 per hour, and more during the weekends and at night.

However, when Rana started his work as a delivery driver, Domino’s paid him $12.40 an hour with a small delivery fee — significantly less than the minimum award wage. Rana has estimated that he was underpaid by up to $20,000 at Domino’s.

“It was pretty hard for me living day to day … Melbourne is expensive,” Rana told SMH. “Being new to this country, you don’t know much about it [the employment system]. You rely on the person who you’re working for that they treat you right.”

Affected workers are encouraged to come forward

Phi Finney McDonald’s principal lawyer, Brett Spiegel, encouraged eligible Domino’s workers to reach out to legal experts.

“We want the Court to know the scale of what workers say they are entitled to if there is an order for Domino’s to pay compensation,” Spiegel said in a news release.

Secretary of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Unions (RAFFWU) Josh Cullinan said that workers may fail to receive their total compensation if they don’t make contact regarding their claims or register.

“We know there are more than 55,000 Domino’s workers who are eligible for this class action,” Cullinan said in a news release. “We want to make sure these people are counted so they can demand what we say they are owed by Domino’s.”

A Domino’s spokesperson told SMH that the company “strongly disputes” the claims in the class action.

“We maintain that the entitlements of all workers in every Domino’s store in Australia were governed by our enterprise agreements in place at the time,” the spokesperson said. “The enterprise agreements were terminated in January 2018 and every Domino’s store in Australia moved to the award conditions at that time.”

SMH reported that the class action, set to be heard in a Federal Court trial on 2 November, does not affect stores run by the franchise’s head office.

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