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Dunkin’ Donuts Is Suing Franchise Owners In An Attack Against Undocumented Immigrants

If you think the Starbucks vs Dunkin’ Donuts game wasn’t already polarizing, America’s coffee choices just got politicized. Dunkin’ Donuts Franchising LLC filed a complaint in a Delaware federal court on June 24, alleging two of its franchise owners have violated federal immigration law and their stores should be shut down. This complaint was against Thomas Sheehan and Kenneth Larson, who run nine stores in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. It isn’t the first time Dunkin’ sued its own franchise owners for this reason.

Dunkin’ sent termination letters to 14 stores in New Jersey and Virginia and then filed a suit against them in April.

According to Dunkin’, it was a customer complaint that sparked this wave of suits.

Credit: dunkin / Instagram

It then began a ten month review period which found hundreds of employee records with incomplete, unverified or falsified I-9 forms. Those I-9 forms are what authorize a person to legally work in the United States. The company also uses an electronic system called “E-Verify.”

Dunkin’ started using E-Verify in 2006, when only government agencies were using the system.

Credit: dunkin / Instagram

Two years later, the company began investing in lobbying efforts for immigration reform. It even hired an outside firm to lobby on immigration in 2017. It filed 100 similar lawsuits in 2006 and 2007 alone. The suits filed in the last couple of months are primarily citing its franchise owners for not using E-Verify.

One Delaware franchise owner has countersued Dunkin’.

Credit: @TheRucasJohnson / Twitter

They’re claiming they were given no opportunity to “correct the violations” and suspect Dunkin’ is just trying to resell their stores for greater profit. Kind of like when your landlord stops caring about keeping you around so that they can hike up the rent.

Labor lawyers are saying that patrolling immigration status has never been a targeted issue in franchises.

Credit: @MercurialMiss / Twitter

Dunkin’ is leading the way in pushing immigrant supporters from wanted to run on Dunkin’. Of course, folks are starting to #BoycottDunkin.

Those who support making life harder for undocumented folks are pledging allegiance to Dunkin’ Donuts.

Credit: @JamesonCal / Twitter

Some business analysts suspect Dunkin’ is simply making a play at reselling its franchises for profit by pushing owners out. Others imagine Dunkin’ is just trying to protect its own business by avoiding the potential for labor violation fines. Pesky customer complaints.

Last year, new CEO Dave Hoffman said hiring workers on work-study visas was “critical” for the company.

Credit: @dunkindonuts / Twitter

So the move could mean that it’s trying to show the federal government that it’s a lawful employer, in hopes that it would make receiving more legal work visas probable. That was said around the time that 7/11 avoided its own labor violation fines by assisting ICE with raiding nearly 100 stores. 7/11 stated that the franchises, not the company, were responsible for following labor laws.

Regardless, the move has acted as a dog whistle on Twitter.

Credit: @NookAppolloni / Twitter

Sorry, @NookAppolloni, the move would be destroying hundreds of lives in the Northeast ????.  The lawsuit targets stores in that area so the wish for California is kind of uneducated. With the inhumane conditions in detention centers and the increased privatization of said centers, it’s likely the most dangerous time to be an undocumented worker in the United States. 

Hypocrisy looks like knowing that Trump’s businesses employ undocumented workers without fear of consequence.

Credit: @JeffFromNH / Twitter

Being undocumented is not a gift or cheating the system. It is a burden to be someone who is more financially and socially vulnerable. Living undocumented means that, while on a quest for a better life, you have to forfeit basic human rights and live in fear that your employer might do something like this.

So, to the Latinx couple that found a screw in their Dunkin’ bagel this week, take it as a metaphor for what they are doing to undocumented people.

Credit: @Chris27Garcia / Twitter

Whatever the business motive is, the move is complicit in the inhumane detention of immigrants. A Jewish Holocaust historian coined the term, “the banality of evil,” which insinuates that evil doesn’t exist in a single mind alone. In order for it to be carried out, it must become pedestrian, seeped into a fabric of society until it is accepted.

READ: New Report Shows ICE Using DMV Data To Track People As Undocumented People Get Drivers Licenses

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