Famous coffee and pastry shop Dunkin’ (formerly known as “Dunkin’ Donuts”) has decided to take the “America First” motto to heart and is cracking down on some franchise owners for not making sure their employees are properly documented.
The chain most recently filed litigation in Delaware and Pennsylvania in an effort to shut down the operations of nine locations found to be in violation of company-wide employment verification requirements. The corporation claims that these targeted locations were “sullying the coffee chain’s reputation … [when they] engaged in illegal hiring practices in breach of their contracts.”
Three federal lawsuits argue that the local franchise owners failed to properly vet employment eligibility during the hiring process, and upon finding these violations, Dunkin’ terminated its relationship with the operator and swiftly moved to take over. But counter claims argue that the donut giant did not provide “compensation” or “afford any opportunity” for the owners to fix their errors. It goes on to state that Dunkin’ is simply attempting to buy back franchises to sell at a profit without properly compensating owners, which the brand denies.
Dunkin’ is going after these franchisees for “pervasive non-compliance” and “no employment documentation or incomplete documentation for a substantial portion of the employees’ files” and said that others simply refused to use E-Verify, or only did so after they were told that they were being investigated.
But this hardline stance against illegal employees is nothing new to Dunkin’ Brands. A RetailWire article from as far back as 2006 documents the Massachusetts-based company’s war on undocumented workers.
The company’s franchisees have recently begun posting signs in shop windows that read: “We follow the law! This company hires lawful workers only.”
The signs are part of a larger effort by the company to weed out any illegal aliens who might have found their way onto franchisee payrolls by submitting false Social Security or green card information.
It is also worth noting that while the franchise owners may lose their ability to run the location, the illegal workers themselves are not required to be reported to immigration services, meaning the risk of hiring these people is much larger for owners than for the employees themselves. This gives very little incentive to ignore the contractually-obligated use of E-Verify, a government-supplied database of immigration information that will let employers know whether someone is legally able to work in the United States.
Opponents to the system worry that glitches may prevent immigrants who are legally able to work from coming up as employable, claiming that errors in the programing are problematic.
“There’s just so many ways for immigration information to be misclassified, so until there are the right safeguards for a person to review the data that’s in there, we’re very concerned,” executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition Ali Noorani, stated in 2006. “The bigger point here is that we can pour all kinds of money and effort into enforcement like this, but unless we fix the immigration system we’re never really going to fix the problem.”
Dunkin’ Brand spokespeople have been unable to comment on the story, as there is pending legislation involved.
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