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Domino's Pizza not liable for sexual harassment at franchise shop

The California Supreme Court has reversed an appellate court's decision pertaining to a sexual harassment case at a Domino's Pizza franchised location. The appellate court had ruled that Domino's Pizza, the franchisor, could be held liable for the actions of a manager at a store franchised to Sui Juris LLC. The state's Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, determined that the franchisor can't be held liable for the actions of that manager.

In the ruling, it was stated that Domino's didn't have the duty or the right to control the day-to-day operations of the store and couldn't be liable for issues that arise due to those operations. Those operations include supervising employees, controlling payroll, scheduling employees or training employees. Because of the lack of control afforded to the franchisor, all of which was transferred to the franchisee in the franchisor-franchisee contract, the franchisor wasn't liable for the actions of a representative of the franchisee at the store.

In the complaint that was filed against Domino's Pizza, Sui Juris LLC and the manager in question, the complainant alleged that the manager sexually harassed her while she worked. The lawsuit alleged that Domino's was the employer of the manager, who worked for the franchisee. It further alleged that the franchisee was an agent for Domino's.

While this ruling by the California Supreme Court might seem like a blow to employees who don't want to deal with sexual harassment, it might actually prove to be something positive. This case, at least in part, sets a precedent for the line between where a franchisee and a franchisor's responsibilities are placed. This might make it easier for people who are sexually harassed at work to hold the proper party liable for issues.

Source: Business Insurance, "Domino's not liable in franchisee's employment liability case: Calif. high court" Judy Greenwald, Sep. 02, 2014

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