FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Plantation, Fla., IHOP franchisee will pay $70,000 and provide equitable relief to end a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC announced Jan. 23 (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, et al. v. Swami Pancake, LLC, No. 19-60714, S.D. Fla.).
PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania federal judge on Dec. 20 denied Jiffy Lube International Inc.’s motion to transfer venue to a Texas federal court with regard to a putative class complaint filed by a former employee alleging that the franchisor’s no-poach provision violates the Sherman Act (Victor Fuentes v. Royal Dutch Shell PLC, et al., No. 18-5174, E.D. Pa.).
MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge in Minnesota on Jan. 17 dismissed without prejudice a claim under the Minnesota Franchise Act (MFA) filed by franchisees of a kickboxing fitness facility but refused to dismiss their claim under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (NJCFA) against franchise brokers (Stephen Van Saders, et al. v. FranChoice, Inc., et al., No. 19-1414, D. Minn.).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A former Wyndham Hotel Group franchisee that executed a franchise agreement permitting the franchisor’s affiliates to contact it via facsimile has no grounds to sue Lands’ End Inc., one of those affiliates, for sending faxes in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) while it was a franchisee, a federal judge in Connecticut ruled Jan. 16, granting Lands’ End’s motion for summary judgment in the class complaint by Gorss Motels Inc. (Gorss Motels, Inc. v. Lands’ End, Inc., No. 17-10, D. Conn., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8908).
TOLEDO, Ohio — An Ohio federal judge on Jan. 14 denied a Denny’s restaurant franchisee’s motion to dismiss state and federal wage law claims after finding that former servers showed that they performed nontipped labor unrelated to their tipped occupation and that the servers performed the nontipped labor more than “part of the time” or “occasionally” (Christy D. O’Neal, et al. v. Denn-Ohio, LLC, No. 19-280, N.D. Ohio, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5721).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge in Ohio on Jan. 13 conditionally certified a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) collective action concerning delivery drivers’ wages and authorized notice to all delivery drivers employed at five Domino’s pizza franchises in the state (Scott Honaker v. Wright Bros. Pizza, Inc., et al., No. 18-1528, S.D. Ohio, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5181).
DETROIT — A federal judge in Michigan on Jan. 10 granted a tax preparation servicer franchisor’s temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the owners of a former franchisee to enforce post-termination obligations contained in franchise agreements (JTH Tax, Inc. v. Claudia Magnotte, et al., No. 19-11607, E.D. Mich., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4256).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on Jan. 13 announced a final rule revising its regulations interpreting joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and providing a four-factor balancing test to determine when a person is acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to the employee.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two labor unions filed a motion on Jan. 7 asking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to reopen the record related to a Dec. 12 decision in which an NLRB panel ruled 2-1 to vacate an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) order that denied approval of multiple settlement agreements involving McDonald’s USA LLC, McDonald’s Restaurants of Illinois Inc. and a large number of franchisees accused of retaliating against workers involved in an organizing campaign for higher pay (McDonald’s USA, LLC, et al. and Fast Food Workers Committee, et al., Nos. 02-CA-093893, 04-CA-125567, 13-CA-106490, 20-CA-132103, 25-CA-114819 and 31-CA-127447, NLRB).
JACKSON, Miss. — A federal judge in Mississippi on Jan. 7 dismissed an employee’s negligence claim against the owner of a Pizza Hut franchise because the employee’s injury from an assault by a third party while delivering pizza in the course and scope of his employment is compensable under the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Act (MWCA) (Jemuel Gates v. Yum! Brands, Inc., et al., No. 19-830, S.D. Miss., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2114).
MIAMI — In a Jan. 7 order, a federal judge in Florida adopted in full an October recommendation that the franchisors of Tim Hortons restaurants should prevail in a dispute with former franchisees over, among other things, subleases and the right to use the “Tim Hortons” trademark (Tim Hortons USA, Inc., States, et al. v. Tims Milner LLC, et al., No. 18-24152, S.D. Fla., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3015).
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A federal judge in Ohio on Jan. 6 declined to dissolve a preliminary injunction previously put in place in a franchisor’s breach of contract and trade secret misappropriation lawsuit against a franchisee and others, rejecting a defendant’s argument that the injunction was improvidently granted and that another judge failed to address issues surrounding the noncompetition provisions of the parties’ franchise agreement (Handel’s Enterprises Inc. v. Kenneth S. Schulenburg, et al., No. 18-3596, 6th Cir., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1185).
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal judge in California in an order docketed Dec. 20 granted preliminary approval to a $4 million class settlement to be paid by a fast food franchisee to end claims over ads sent via allegedly unwanted text messages (Cory Larson, et al. v. Harman-Management Corporation, No. 16-219, E.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 219294).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Cleaners who sued a cleaning company franchisor over franchise fees made no “viable” unjust enrichment claim as they did nothing more than claim that the franchise agreement requiring fees was an employment agreement and so any fee or payment is void, a federal judge in Connecticut ruled Jan. 3, denying the cleaners’ motion for reconsideration, which followed the judge’s Dec. 21 summary judgment ruling for the franchisor (Simon Mujo, et al. v. Jani-King International, Inc., et al., No. 16-1990, D. Conn., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 679).
NEW YORK — On Jan. 3 — one day after a federal judge in New York released a memorandum and order explaining her reasoning behind a Dec. 13 approval of a final settlement valued at more than $6.3 billion in a class complaint brought on behalf of more than 12 million nationwide merchants, including franchisees, who accept or accepted Visa and Mastercard-branded cards for payments who alleged that the Visa, Mastercard and the issuing banks harmed competition and charged supracompetative fees — two class members filed a notice of appeal in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, No. 05-MD-1720, E.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 216796).
NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey federal judge on Dec. 26 dismissed employees’ claims against a tax preparation services franchisor arising after the effective date of a statute in Oklahoma wage law but denied dismissal of claims arising before the statute’s effective date (Wanda Mardis, et al. v. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc., et al., No. 16-2115, D. N.J., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 221573).
PITTSBURGH — A McDonald’s customer sued the restaurant’s corporate and Pittsburgh franchise owners on Dec. 11, alleging in a Pennsylvania state court that an employee’s assault left him paralyzed after a fight broke out between his wife and several McDonald’s employees (Mark Conn v. McDonald’s Corp., et al., No. 19-017863, Pa. Comm. Pls., Allegheny Co.).
HARTFORD, Conn. — Under state and federal statutes, a Connecticut judge ruled Nov. 26 that a former franchisor is not a guarantor of the current franchisor’s obligations under a gasoline dealership’s franchise agreements (Gulf Dealers of Connecticut v. Blue Hills Fuels, LLC, No. X07HHDCV176083069S, Conn. Super., Hartford Dist., 2019 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2989).
NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 23 upheld an order enjoining franchisees’ California state court case against the franchisor of Subway restaurants and its development agents based upon an arbitration provision in the franchise agreement (Doctor’s Associates, LLC v. Manoj Tripathi, et al., No. 16-4329, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 38358).
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky federal judge on Dec. 19 dismissed a tax-preparation service and its president’s third-party claims against a bank for alleged tortious interference in prospective economic advantage and breach of contract because the bank is being improperly impleaded for separate claims that do not affect the liability in a franchisor’s original case alleging violations under the Lanham Act and the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) (JTH Tax, Inc., et al. v. Freedom Tax, Inc., et al., No. 19-00085, W.D. Ky., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 218210).