A Sydney law firm is launching a class action against 7-Eleven and the ANZ bank in the Federal Court following the scandal that saw thousands of workers underpaid across Australia.
Lawyer Stewart Levitt intends to file a statement of claim in the Federal Court – likely in Melbourne – on Friday on behalf of former and current 7-Eleven franchisees.
The class action will seek damages from both the company 7-Eleven Stores and ANZ, Mr Levitt said in a statement on Thursday.
The convenience chain was forced to pay back millions of dollars to thousands of workers after it was revealed in 2015 that there’d been rampant wage theft across hundreds of stores.
Mr Levitt has argued franchisees could win “substantial damages” from both 7-Eleven head office and ANZ, which loaned many people the money they used to buy their franchise.
In a submission to a federal parliament inquiry, Mr Levitt alleged the chain practised a “de facto ethnic selection of franchisees” in order to select store owners less likely to blow the whistle on employment practices, Fairfax Media reported in early 2016.
The lawyer told AAP on Thursday the class action was, however, broader and based on a sweeping review of 7-Eleven’s “entire system and the ANZ funding”.
Former ACCC chairman Allan Fels was hand-picked to run an independent process reimbursing workers after it was revealed some franchisees systematically underpaid international students on threat of deportation.
But in mid-2016 Prof Fels accused 7-Eleven management of “welshing” on public promises to pay staff back after he was sacked as the independent judge of workers’ claims.