The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated both of the previous district court decisions in favor of 7-Eleven franchisees in a consolidated appeal on February 27, sending the entire matter back to the district court. Eric H. Karp, general counsel for the National Coalition of 7-Eleven Associations made the announcement, saying that the ruling states that two important errors of law were made by the district court.
Shannon Liss-Riordan of Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C. in Boston, Massachusetts represented the 7-Eleven plaintiff franchisees on the appeal and will be representing them going forward. She is widely recognized as one of the nation’s top plaintiffs’ class action employment lawyers, chalking up victories against big-name corporations such as Starbucks, FedEx, and American Airlines.
The first case filed in October 2017, addressing misclassification of franchisees, asserted that the pervasive controls that 7-Eleven, Inc. exercises over almost every single aspect of the day-to-day operations of franchised locations makes the franchisees employees, not independent contractors, in the eyes of the law, as well as other legal factors.
As soon as U.S. District Judge John F. Walter of Central District of California issued a judgement on the pleadings dismissing all the franchisee plaintiffs’ claims, the franchisees appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The second case, seeking an injunction against 7-Eleven, Inc. was filed in June 2018 to stop the franchisor from forcing franchisees to sign releases of claims as a condition of renewing their franchise agreements. The central allegation of this injunction case was that such releases of claims are invalid under California law.