Some of our readers here in Indianapolis may remember the employment scandal that rocked the 7-Eleven name just weeks ago. As some of you may recall, federal investigators executed search warrants on 7-Eleven stores across the nation after receiving information about possible employee exploitation. According to investigators, they found several instances where undocumented immigrants were not only being employed at the stores but exploited because of their unauthorized immigration status.
So far, at least nine store owners or managers have been arrested and accused of various employment law violations which include providing the unauthroized migrant workers with stolen identities then forcing them to work 100-hour work weeks, often paying them less than what they were owed. In the wake of this scandal, 7-Eleven announced that it would be cracking down on franchise owners to determine whether there are further violators and hold them accountable for their behavior.
Unpaid wage stories such as this can be particularly difficult to read because most people asume that behavior like this doesn't occur in today's day and age. Unfortunately, these stories remind us that some employers have a disregard for employment laws and are not afraid to break them. Fortunately for exploited employees, such as the ones in this story, there are state and federal laws that may be referenced in a court of law that can back up their claims against a guilty employer and hopefully receive compensation in return.
Though federal investigators say the nine accused store owners and managers could face felony charges, it's not clear whether the exploited employees will file any civil charges at this time. Their situation could run into further complications when their immigration statuses are taken into consideration as well. As some lawyers may point out, this could mitigate any wage claims they file against their employer in the future, leaving them with little sense of justice in the end.
Source: The Huffington Post, "7-Eleven To Conduct Review Of Hiring Practices Following Exploitation Allegations," David Winograd, June 20, 2013