Sexual harassment claims will often go through a settlement process before they ultimately end up in court. In some cases, plaintiffs and defendants will go through multiple rounds of litigation until the case is resolved, either through settlement, verdict, or in the event of a dismissal. According to Courthouse News, the Supreme Court ruled that Domino’s, the franchise, was not responsible for sexual harassment that took place at one of its locations. Sexual harassment liability always turn on the specific facts of the case, especially the relationship between the aggressor and the victim. As this case illustrates, sexual harassment claims involving a franchise relationship can be more complicated.
According to reports, the victim began working for Domino’s Pizza in November of 2008 and suffered sexual harassment by her assistant manager, including comments, gestures, and inappropriate touching. After her father called the police and the corporate office to complain, the family decided to pursue litigation. Our Orange County sexual harassment attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of victims. In every case, we will take a strategic approach to collect and preserve evidence, identity responsible parties, and pursue every opportunity for just relief.
In this case, the victim complained that the manager made lewd comments and gestures, and also touched her inappropriately. She later resigned from her position after her hours were reduced because of the complaint. The victim filed a lawsuit against the assistant manager, Domino’s Pizza, as well as the franchise operator. The lawsuit alleged that the parties for sexual harassment, retaliation and failure to take reasonable steps to avoid sexual harassment. There were additional claims filed for assault, battery, emotional distress, and constructive termination.
Domino’s argued that the actual employer in this case was the franchisee owner and operator, not the company. The trial court agreed and granted Domino’s Pizza’s motion for summary judgment. The California Court of Appeals then overturned this decision before the case landed in the California Supreme Court. Ultimately, the highest court ruled in favor of Domino’s. The case answers the important question of whether a franchisor can be held liable for employee actions. According to the court, Domino’s was responsible for standards in how pizza was made and delivered and in protecting the brand image, but not in overseeing employee conduct.
The court found that the franchisee was ultimately responsible for hiring, supervision, policy-making, and imposing disciplinary action for employees. There was evidence to suggest that the franchisee had the sole responsibility of handling the interactions of employees. Nothing in the contract required or allowed the franchisor to intervene on these processes. The victim alleged that the employee was essentially a company agent; however, the court found that Domino’s lacked control over the day-to-day aspects of employment.
Every sexual harassment case is unique and should be reviewed by an experienced attorney. Though cases involving a franchise may be more complicated, there are always individuals and entities who should be investigated in the event of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and other misconduct in the workplace.
Employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 949.375.4734.
More Blog Entries:
Ex-San Diego Mayor Sued for Sexual Harassment, Orange County Employment Lawyer Blog
California’s Top Employment Law Mistakes, Oct. 26, 2013, Orange County Employment Lawyer Blog