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7-Eleven accused of ethnicity discrimination by franchise owners

7-Eleven, a convenience store chain that operates in 16 countries and across the United States — including in Michigan — has been accused of some fairly serious and widespread discrimination. Over 1,200 members of a franchise owner group have accused the company of racial and ethnicity discrimination. For some, this alleged discrimination may have ultimately resulted in the forced stripping of some owners’ stores.

The group claims that the discrimination really started in 2005, when Seven & I Holdings Co. took control of 7-Eleven. Supposedly the discrimination is mostly directed at franchise owners of South Asian descent. They have also been accused of purposely taking away high-performing stores in ideal locations and handing them over to new franchise owners who fork out higher fees.

Furthermore, the group feels as though their cultural background of hard work and respect for authority was taken advantage of. In the face of these accusations, 7-Eleven has denied any wrongdoing or discrimination. According to the company, the affected franchise owners violated certain trademark usage and also changed certain sales reports. This, apparently, is what prompted them to increase store surveillance and increase certain practices pertaining to investigations.

One 7-Eleven franchise owner asserts that he was stalked and intimidated by company investigators. Exploits such as this as well as previously mentioned surveillance and bullying prompted the ethnicity discrimination claims against 7-Eleven. Relatively recent changes made to the company shifted the roles of franchise owners to the legal status of employees of the company. If the individuals in this case, or Michigan individuals who have suffered similar problems, are successful in their claims of racial discrimination, they may be able to receive proper compensation, including lost wages.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "California franchisees accuse 7-Eleven of racial discrimination", Brianna Sacks, July 14, 2014

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