Via MintPress News
For South Asian immigrants to the United States, owning a 7-Eleven convenience store franchise has traditionally been a passport to the American dream.
The startup costs for a 7-Eleven franchise are low compared to fast-food and motel franchises — as little as $50,000. In a departure from the usual franchising model, the franchisor, 7-Eleven Inc., bears the expense of land, building and store equipment and also charges royalties based on the store’s gross profit, rather than a percentage of sales.
Last year, the National Minority Franchising Initiative included 7-Eleven in its annual list of the Top 50 Franchises for Minorities, commending its “exceptional record” of minority representation. Of the company’s franchise stores, the survey noted, 57 percent were minority-operated.
Just as the dry-cleaning industry is largely controlled by Korean-Americans, immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have gravitated toward 7-Eleven, said Jas Dhillon, the owner of 7-Eleven franchises in the Los Angeles-area communities of Porter Ranch and Pacoima.
“It’s proven to be a success,” he told MintPress News in an interview.
But in a lawsuit filed earlier this month in federal court, a 7-Eleven franchisee group and five individual franchisees, including Dhillon, paint a very different picture, accusing Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc., which is now owned by a Japanese corporation, of “an aggressive and discriminatory campaign” against South Asian franchisees.
“[A] foreign corporation has been allowed to transform the American Dream into an American Nightmare for countless individuals and families,” the Franchise Owners Association of Greater Los Angeles and its co-plaintiffs allege.
The suit says 7-Eleven management, at the behest of Japan’s Seven & I Holdings Co., has harassed and intimidated franchisees and falsely accused them of wrongdoing “as part of a larger corporate effort to terminate their successful franchise stores and take the stores back at no cost. 7-Eleven then ‘churns’ or re-sells the stores, realizing a windfall profit [from] new franchisees.”
South Asians have been targeted, the plaintiffs say, because of “cultural vulnerabilities” including deference to authority and fear of being shamed if allegations of impropriety become public. In a separate case, Dilip and Saroj Patel, an elderly couple who owned a franchise in Riverside, California, allege they signed away their store in December 2013 after being subjected to an eight-hour interrogation by 7-Eleven “asset protection” investigators.
Continue reading 7-Eleven Takes Big Gulp Out Of American Dream [MintPress News]