Coffee and donuts retailer Dunkin' Donuts announced Tuesday that it is planning a national crackdown on franchise owners who hire illegal workers or fail to use the government's "E-Verify" employment eligibility verification services before hiring staff.
The chain also suggests that they will take action to retract and reclaim franchises from owners who they find to be skirting the rules, according to the Washington Examiner.
Dunkin' has been taking action on the latter front for several months, the Examiner reports, even going so far as to sue franchise owners who refuse to abide by several key rules when hiring help. Dunkin has filed suit against some of its own owners in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Delaware to reclaim their property after "Dunkin’ reviewed employment verification documents and practices, found violations at the subject franchisee companies, terminated the operators’ franchise agreements and then swiftly moved to remove the franchisees from the restaurants.”
The nine franchise owners whose stores were affected say that Dunkin afforded them no ability to correct their errors and that Dunkin' refused to provide compensation for lost stores. They also claim that Dunkin' is suing to reclaim franchises that they believe could be sold at a higher price.
But Dunkin's lawyers reportedly told the Examiner that the chain makes clear, in its contract with franchise owners, that owners must use E-Verify or risk losing control of their stores. Owners who don't follow the rules, Dunkin's lawyers said, risk “sullying the coffee chain’s reputation … [when they] engaged in illegal hiring practices in breach of their contracts.”
In their filing, Dunkin' also claims that it warned the nine franchise owners and that all nine suffered from "pervasive" contract violations, including “no employment documentation or incomplete documentation for a substantial portion of the employees’ files." When they were warned to start using E-Verify, some of them flat out refused until they were told they were being investigated and would likely be punished.
The chain says it will now expand its investigation nationwide.
The move isn't likely to make Dunkin' Donuts the pastry provider of choice for the nation's progressives -- and they may need to get some advice from Chick-Fil-A on how to handle blowback over company policies — but Dunkin' seems to believe that what they're doing is protecting workers who might otherwise be vulnerable to greedy bosses, or those uninterested in preserving workers' rights.
BizPac Review points out that, when a franchise is discovered to have skirted the rules on using E-Verify, Dunkin' does not require employees who might have failed an immigration background check be reported to authorities. Punishment is reserved for those franchisees who deliberately ignored parts of their contract with Dunkin' and its sister brands.
Dunkin appears to be the first national retailer to make such a drastic move in light of the Trump administration's plan to combat illegal immigration both on the nation's borders and inside. Retailers who do not demand their franchisees and subsidiaries use E-Verify — and don't check up on E-Verify's use after the fact — may be in hot water with the administration soon, if the White House gets its way.
Starting July 4th, the president has said, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin a series of major crackdowns on illegal immigrants working in many major cities (though it remains to be seen exactly how the administration plans on accomplishing their goal, given the current lack of resources). Those crackdowns won't just target illegal immigrants; they're also designed to target employers who look the other way on immigration status.