Lessons To Be Learned From 7-Eleven’s Immigration Problems
This summer, Federal immigration authorities raided more than a dozen 7-Eleven franchises in New York and Virginia and arrested the store owners and managers for hiring and mistreating illegal immigrants. The 7-Eleven franchises were accused of using stolen identification of children and the deceased to employ undocumented aliens who were then paid substandard wages and forced to work long hours while housed in properties owned by their employers. The Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department say their investigation is ongoing and more 7-Eleven franchises still may be seized.
The national home 7-Eleven corporation warned all its more than 5,000 franchisees that they will terminate the franchise agreement with stores that hire illegal aliens. They also will conduct their own field inspections to ensure all stores have proper I-9 employment-eligibility forms for their employees.
I-9 employment-eligibility verification
All employers are required to check the legal status of any potential employee before hiring them. The approved method is to complete an I-9 employment-eligibility form for each prospective hire. The employee must present a combination of identification documents and proof of legal status, such as a passport, driver’s license or work visa. The employer is charged with inspecting the documents for authenticity and they will be subject to heavy fines for non-compliance.
Can a franchisor be vicariously liable for the actions of their franchisees?
A national company that sells a franchise will allow the individual franchise store to carry its name, sell its products and install certain operating procedures, as long as it adheres to certain standards and conditions. This relationship is set forth in the franchise agreement. The individual franchise is generally otherwise independently owned and operated. The franchisor can be held responsible for damages caused by the wrongful acts of an individual franchise owner and their employees in certain circumstances. This is referred to as vicarious liability. There are several factors that will determine whether the franchisor will be vicariously liable, including:
- The franchisee was acting as an agent of the franchisor, for example, where the franchisor’s product was dangerous or defective.
- The franchise agreements gave the franchisor control of the very procedures that caused the loss.
- The degree to which the franchisor directs the operations of the individual franchise and its employees.
The immigration lawyers at Kell, Alterman & Runstein, L.L.P. have been advising Oregon businesses for more than 80 years. Call and see how our experience can work for your business.