BEST PRACTICES…Better Pay? Better Sue!

Updated: Sep 19, 2018

PAPA JOHNS Faces Its Next Trial (literally) By Fire Of A Laundry List Of Practices That Many Would Not Describe As Better.

A manager at a store in Atlanta finished with an order and then turned to me and said, “That was DOORDASH. We’re using them now.” She continued offering an unsolicited explanation as if (since it is, after all, PAPA JOHNS (PJ)- and anything attached to this Bizzaro-world company these days needs a qualifier) she needed to assuage the blasphemous sentence that just parted her lips. She explained that hiring drivers was tough these days because of the upheaval that is going on in the food delivery sector – namely pizza delivery. The company is being forced into a position that others of its ilk will also be faced with soon.

But that’s not what this particular post is about. This is about the peculiar tumult that PJ finds itself in with regard to its driver situation. You see, for several years now PJ has used a specific labor algorithm that pays delivery drivers minimum wage for hours worked in store but a significantly lower wage – by almost half as much – for time spent on the road delivering customers’ food. 

This – along with charging a large mileage fee and only paying drivers roughly a third of it and pocketing the rest – all while failing to inform the customer of this – leading the customer to believe the driver was getting the delivery fee along with the tip – thereby reducing tips for the driver.

This – along with offering the customer a higher rate of service placing their order above everyone else – for an increased fee of course – and none of that fee going to the driver…of course.

This – along with requiring drivers to allow monitoring devices in their vehicles that keep track of their speed, braking, stops, cornering, and other driving habits (an invasion of privacy inviting further litigation?). 

This – along with wage freezes across the board and demands of cross training for no additional pay incentives.

This – along with having to take runs that are free orders or screw-ups from corporate or the store or other drivers or promotions – all at almost half the rate of pay for being on the road.

Add all this to an inherently dangerous job that puts the driver at risk for robbery, road rage, and pranks (google pizza man robbed, shot, pranked, etc.) that have become more mean spirited with the times – and the publics penchant to blame employees for a corporation’s public position on social or political issues (see Chik-Fil-A drive-thru YouTube video) sprinkled in with the increased price in tires, brakes, gas, etc., and all things necessary to maintain a safe vehicle while tips and pay are dropping but uniform requirements remain a priority and you get…well…a lot of drivers more overheated than a rusted radiator. 

A week ago I opened a letter inviting me to participate in a class action lawsuit against a company I have worked with off and on since 1996. That once compassionate company that included the axiom “People Are Priority Always (PAPA),” with policies oriented around their people with annual all expense paid trips to Disney and earned stock options available to management even at the store level – they didn’t just pay lip service – they meant it…sadly has lost its way. 

The founder has (rightly or wrongly) seemingly lost his mind and his company, the stock is in the tank, sales are trickling like blood flow from a diseased artery after one too many Meats pizzas and now they are losing their driving force…literally. Their drivers are joining a class action on the way out the door to drive for UberEats, DOORDASH, Grubhub, Postmates, et al. How’s that for pie in your face?

Not to worry though. With those delivery companies out there owning only roughly 5-10% of the food delivery space and growing at internet speed combining endless choices available for home delivery in a device that fits in ones back pocket, other pizza companies will follow PAPA’s trajectory faster than you can say “30 minutes or less” and all the dough (pun intended) in the world won’t stop the bleeding.

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