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Dunkin’ Donuts sues local franchisees over undocumented worker allegations

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By Abby Osborne
Contributing Writer

Dunkin’ Donuts has sued multiple franchisees over the alleged failure to verify employee eligibility to work in
the United States, according to a report by Restaurant Business.

The seven Delaware locations that fall under the lawsuits are in Hockessin, Fox Run, Millcreek, Trolley Square, New Castle, Elsmere, and Bear. 

The company is claiming these locations didn’t use the “e-verify” system to ensure that an employee they hired could actually work at the establishment in accordance with federal law. The alleged violations were discovered through a review of franchisee defendants’ employment and tax records conducted from January of 2017 to October of 2018, as per the case file. 

From this review, Dunkin’ Donuts claims it discovered frequent noncompliance with federal law, which violated the “obey all laws” provision of the franchise agreements. 

After their review, the company served the defendants with “a Notice of Default and Termination” on June 20 which would effectively end the Delaware Franchise Agreements ninety days after the franchisees received the notice. 

Dunkin’ Donuts, however, has claimed these franchisees haven’t confirmed the acceptance of termination and have continued to operate the establishments while “using the Dunkin’ Marks and System.”

“We don’t typically weigh in on intra-brand lawsuits, so we are going to have to pass on this one,” said Jenna Weisbord of the International Franchise Association.

This isn’t the first time Dunkin’ Donuts has filed a lawsuit against franchisees in Delaware. Restaurant Business reports that in September of 2018 the company filed similar lawsuits against five locations in Delaware for “alleging violations of employment law following the review.”

Carrie Leishman, president and CEO of the Delaware Restaurant Association and Delaware Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, maintains this isn’t a prominent issue in Delaware.

“It’s very rare, and I haven’t heard it happening in Delaware,” she said. 

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