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California court finds Domino's not liable for sexual harassment

Employees count on employers to keep the workplace free from harassment of all types. In the case of businesses that are part of a franchise, determining who is at fault when harassment occurs is something that can be complex. In a recent case, the California Supreme Court has drawn a line that let those involved in the case know exactly whom to hold responsible for the sexual harassment that allegedly occurred there.

The case has to do with the manager of a Domino's Pizza location sexually harassing a young employee. The sexual harassment claims have to do with a location that is a franchised location instead of a store that is controlled by Domino's Pizza LLC. In response to the allegation, a Domino's area leader instructed the owner of the location to fire the man who was being accused of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The state's high court found that the franchisee was responsible for day-to-day employment issues, such as sexual harassment policies, despite the fact that the area leader told the owner to fire the man. While it did find that the franchisor, Domino's Pizza, was responsible for branding, pizza making, and other franchisee activities, that responsibility didn't include ensuring that there is proper supervision of the locations.

While the topic of who is responsible for sexual harassment is one that will almost always prove to be complex, especially in situations like this one, victims of sexual harassment should always remember that they don't have to deal with the harassment. There are steps that sexual harassment victims can take to help remedy the situation. Knowing these steps can help victims to regain control of their personal space.

Source: Bloomberg BNA, "California Justices Limit Franchiser Liability, Find Domino's Isn't Store Worker's Employer" Chris Opfer, Sep. 02, 2014

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