Businesses use many names, words, and titles in an attempt to define relationships with workers. The California courts, however, are not bound by mere titles or words, and instead look to a company’s conduct to determine the real nature of its relationship with workers.
Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal recently held that
a franchisor could be held accountable for workplace harassment at one of its
franchises when the franchisor exercises control over personnel decisions. In Patterson
v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC, an employee of a Domino’s restaurant alleged sexual
harassment and assault at her job against both the local Domino’s franchisee
and its parent company, the Domino’s franchisor.
Court of Appeal rejected the franchisor’s attempt to dismiss the case against it
on the grounds that plaintiff’s only employer was the local restaurant. The Court held that despite the restaurant’s
contract with Domino’s establishing it as franchisee and an independent
contractor, there was evidence that the Dominos’ maintained substantial control
over the franchisee’s local operation, management-employee relations and
the alleged harasser in Patterson v.
Domino’s Pizza, LLC was the plaintiff’s supervisor, and in California an
employer is held strictly liable for workplace harassment by its
should contact an attorney experienced in matters involving employment law as
soon as possible, if you believe you are the subject of workplace discrimination.