Delivering pizzas is a dangerous job. According to US labour statistics, shootings and attacks are now so common that the mobile occupation is rated at least as life threatening as being a police officer.

Domino‘s Pizza believed that this was reason enough to institute a company policy that allowed delivery drivers to decide at each address whether they would take the pizza to the door, or ask to be paid in the street. Soon, however, the company’s Washington franchise Team Washington was taken to court, sued in a US$30m lawsuit that alleged racial discrimination.

The plaintiff, Jim Bell, argued that despite the fact that Team Washington is the only pizza restaurant to deliver to homes in all areas of the city, the driver’s decision to ask him to pay in the street was racially motivated. A former resident of the unit block of Q Street, a poor area in the south west of Washington, Bell said he was infuriated and believed that the predominantly black area where he lived was no more dangerous then the Georgetown location of the restaurant itself.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff, presiding over the case, granted a directed verdict for Domino’s, which denied racial profiling. She stated: “I find that [driver safety] is a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for the challenged practice.”

Announcing her verdict, which was brought before the case reached a jury, Bartnoff reminded the court that: “The record is that we have a practice that was instituted initially in Virginia in a white neighbourhood in response to a safety concern. There was a problem regarding driver safety in the District of Columbia and the practice was instituted as a management response to a safety problem.”

This case was just one of three sister lawsuits currently in progress against Domino’s Pizza and Team Washington for alleged discriminatory practises, and Bell is a key figure in the multiple complaints. The attorney is the named plaintiff in a lawsuit brought before the US District Court today (11 October), and he is also representing other plaintiffs hoping to be awarded US$9m in a Prince George’s County court.