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"Last leg" Domino's drivers who
deliver to franchisees are exempt
from the Federal Arbitration Act

Carmona v. Domino's Pizza (9th Cir 12/23/2021)
Sent to Custom Alerts™ subscribers on 12/23/2021

In a putative class action brought by Domino's drivers asserting violations of various California labor laws, the 9th Circuit affirmed the denial of Domino's Pizza's motion to compel arbitration.

The three lead plaintiffs each had agreements with Domino’s providing that "any claim, dispute, and/or controversy" between the parties would "be submitted to and determined exclusively by binding arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act."

The holding is that the drivers were a "class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce," and were therefore exempt from the requirements of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).

Section 1 of the FAA exempts from the arbitration mandate employment "contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce."

The exemption applies if the class of workers is engaged in a "single, unbroken stream of interstate commerce" that renders interstate commerce a "central part" of their job description.

Domino's contended that the drivers who delivered goods to individual Domino's franchisees in California were not engaged in interstate commerce because the franchisees, all located in California, placed orders with the supply center in the state, and the goods delivered were not in the same form in which they arrived at the supply center.

The court disagreed, and followed Rittman v. Amazon.com, Inc., 971 F.3d 904 (9th Cir. 2020), which concerned Amazon package delivery drivers. Like Amazon, Domino's was directly involved in the procurement and delivery of interstate goods, was involved in the process from the beginning to the ultimate delivery of the goods to their destinations, and its business included not just the selling of goods, but also the delivery of those goods. The alteration of the goods at the supply center did not change the result.

The court concluded that, as with the Amazon drivers, the transportation of interstate goods "for the last leg" of their journey by the Domino's drivers satisfied the requirements of the FAA exemption.

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