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    7-Eleven Begins I-9 Compliance Review In Wake of Federal Raid

    Letter to more than 5,000 franchisees stresses obligation to comply with legal requirements. 

    DALLAS -- In the wake of an illegal immigrant employee scandal affecting 14 of its franchisees in New York and Virginia, 7-Eleven Inc. is now instructing its franchisees to conduct an internal review of their personnel files to confirm they are in compliance.

    In a letter sent this morning to more than 5,000 franchisees, the Dallas-based convenience store retailer said 7-Eleven field consultants and market managers will conduct on-site reviews to evaluate compliance.

    "As you know, pursuant to the franchise agreement, franchisees have an obligation to comply with all legal requirements concerning the accurate and thorough completion of the employment eligibility verification form, I-9, for every employee they hire," wrote Darren Rebelez, 7-Eleven's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "This letter is to remind you of the required I-9 compliance steps and to outline some of the consequences for failure to comply. These requirements are mandatory for all franchisees. Failure to comply will result in serious consequences, including the possible termination of your franchise agreement."

    Franchisees have until the end of the month to conduct an internal I-9 review. Beginning July 1, field consultants and market managers will visit each store to review all I-9 documents for completion and substantive compliance.

    According to the letter, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 requires all U.S. employers to confirm identity and work eligibility by completing an I-9 form for all new hires as of Nov. 6, 1986, and to retain original I-9 forms for inspection for all current employees, as well as for all terminated employees for three years after the start date or one year after the termination date, whichever is later. Franchisees, like any other employer, must follow the federal and applicable state laws regarding immigration and I-9 compliance.

    "We know that you are the sole employer of all associates in your stores, and we are not attempting to interfere with your employment relationship or control how you hire, fire or manage your employees," Rebelez wrote. "However, we have a critical need to protect the integrity and reputation of the 7-Eleven brand, a right to insist upon your compliance with the franchise agreement, and to ensure that all franchised stores are being operated in a lawful manner."

    If any I-9 form is determined to be missing or to have substantive violations, 7-Eleven will issue a breach notice requiring an appropriate cure of the deficiencies. Failure to cure any such breach could result in the termination of franchise agreements, the company stated.

    As CSNews Online previously reported, federal authorities seized 14 7-Eleven Inc. stores in Long Island and Virginia on Monday, charging nine owners and managers of harboring and hiring illegal immigrants and paying them using fake social security numbers.

    Prosecutors are seeking $30 million in forfeiture from the stores and their Dallas-based corporate parent.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, N.Y., are also investigating 40 other 7-Eleven franchises in New York City and elsewhere.

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