‘Operation Take-Back’ Project Results in Former 7-Eleven Executive ‘Blowing the Whistle’ on Bosses Whose Goal was to Reclaim Franchises Operated by Asian Indians in NJ

As experienced Los Angeles business attorneys we understand the issues franchisees often face in running a franchise.  Recently, a former 7-Eleven executive allegedly blew the whistle on company executives who put him in charge of ‘Operation Take-Back,’ a project that was designed to rid the franchise stores in New Jersey of South Asian and Indian franchisee owners, deemed no longer a part of the company’s vision.

According to a news article at NJ.com, Ian Shehaiber was hired by 7-Eleven as a district manager/field consultant in 2010.  Soon after, he was given a $1,500 cash reward and named 2011 Rookie Field Consultant of the Year.  However, all of that changed when his bosses placed Shehaiber in charge of the project in 2012.

Shehaiber filed suit against 7-Eleven in December in state Superior Court in Middlesex County, thereafter the company requested a change of venue to the U.S. District Court due to federal labor and discrimination law issues.  According to Gerald Marks, Shehaiber’s attorney, the franchise has taken action over the past two years to interrogate, dehumanize, and ridicule Indian franchisees in their effort to retake the 7-Eleven stores and resell them at a profit.

Margaret Chabris, a spokeswoman for 7-Eleven, said in a statement that “The allegations made in this complaint are false.”  She went on in the statement to say that the franchise is dedicated to protecting other franchisees, employees, and guests by terminating the relationship with franchisees who violate the franchise agreement or the law when appropriate, and that “a few” franchisees had been caught in violation of the law and/or their contractual obligations.  Shehaiber’s attorney did not comment on Chabris’ statement.

The lawsuit claims that Shehaiber was instructed to take part in the project in mid 2012, the goal being to identify franchisees who had stolen money from the franchise.  Shehaiber also claims in the suit that meetings regarding the take-back were fueled by aggressive anti-Indian tactics and racial remarks.  He said that he was constantly in fear that he would be terminated if he spoke up; Shehaiber also claims in the lawsuit that due to his Christian faith and his supervisor’s contempt for those who are non-Muslim, he was discriminated against and forced to work in a hostile environment.

Executives at 7-Eleven who were allegedly involved in ‘Operation Take-back’ claimed that franchise owners who were Indian made a habit of attempting to take advantage of others.

It will be interesting to learn how this all turns out, and whether 7-Eleven is able to put the stores in question under corporate control.

Whether you are a franchisor or franchisee, it is important to consult with a Los Angeles business attorney specializing in franchising when problems or issues surface that you are not certain how to deal with.  At Spotora & Associates, our staff has the skill, knowledge, and experience to successfully advise and handle any and all franchise issues.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 at 8:06 am and is filed under Business & Corporate Law, Contract Law, Litigation, Tort Law. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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