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Convenience store chain accused of race discrimination

For some people, the thought of owning their own business is a lifelong dream, the American dream. This can be particularly true of immigrants who come to Colorado and other states looking for ways to earn a living and take care of their families. One way to become a business owner is through running a franchise of a chain store or restaurant. However, for one group of immigrants, buying and operating a 7-Eleven franchise store has allegedly been a lesson in race discrimination rather than a story of success.

The well-known national chain stands accused of race discrimination by a group who represents over 1,200 members who contend the chain is guilty of essentially pushing them out of store ownership. The suit basically alleges that 7-Eleven would let the franchise owners run the store and make it quite successful in the area. Then, once proven successful, they would push out local owners, intimidate them into giving up the store and then implement a new owner who would pay more for the right to be part of the franchise.

The suit alleges that the group who suffered this alleged injustice is composed of store owners who are of South Asian heritage. The franchise owners believe their heritage, dedication to hard work and sense of pride and dignity made them easy targets for the corporate owners to manipulate and push out of the way. The convenience store chain says the charges are baseless.

Race discrimination can be difficult to prove. However, it does happen at all levels of employment, from management to the newly hired -- or even those seeking employment. Anyone in Colorado who feels their race or ethnic background have been used as a means of terminating them, intimidating them or preventing them from moving forward in a given workplace may want to learn more about their rights and options.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "California franchisees accuse 7-Eleven of racial discrimination", Brianna Sacks, July 14, 2014

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