Big corporations like McDonald’s and 7-Eleven exert a lot of control over their franchise owners when it comes to things like branding and the products they sell. When it comes to labor standards, though, it’s almost like corporate management doesn’t care at all, as two recent cases remind us. Fourteen 7-Eleven stores were seized and nine franchise owners and managers were arrested and charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud, identity theft, and harboring illegal immigrants. According to U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch:
… the 7-Eleven defendants allegedly forced the immigrants to work 100 hours a week and pocketed the majority of their pay, while also forcing them to live in and pay rent in boarding houses that the defendants owned. This “plantation system” allegedly went on for more than 13 years, she said.
The workers were assigned stolen identities by the defendants, but it sure sounds like the abuses directed at these workers merit some charges—you know, theft, forced labor, that kind of stuff? These 14 stores are looking like the tip of the iceberg, with 40 more being inspected, yet apparently in 13 years, 7-Eleven corporate management didn’t figure out something was wrong.