Domino's Canada can't cut ties with North Vancouver franchise, B.C. Supreme Court rules

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled against Domino's Canada's attempts to sever ties with a North Vancouver franchise based on allegations of employee exploitation.

Judge rules unproven employee allegations of exploitation aren't enough to end contract

Two former employees allege they were abused by the franchise operators of this Domino's in North Vancouver, B.C. (CBC News)

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled against Domino's Canada's attempt to sever ties with a North Vancouver franchise based on allegations of employee exploitation.

A CBC report last month revealed allegations from two former employees of the franchise, who claimed their bosses didn't pay them properly for several weeks and that they were assaulted and issued with death threats after refusing to work unless they got paid. 

The allegations had not been proven in court, and the franchise owners denied the allegations. However, police were investigating and the employees filed complaints with the Employment Standards Branch of B.C.

Five days later, after its own investigation, Domino's Canada's terminated its contract with the franchise on West 3rd Streetat Lonsdale in North Vancouver.

In a letter to the operators, the company wrote "you have conducted yourselves in a manner that adversely affects the reputation of the store and the goodwill associated with Domino’s Pizza."

The operators, brothers Farhad "Alex" Iranmanesh and Keyvan Iranmanesh, have called the allegations "unproven" and from two "rogue employees."

The Iranmaneshs asked for an injunction in B.C. Supreme Court to prevent Domino's Canada from terminating the franchise agreement.

'Not the type of people to bully or intimidate'

Several current employees also denied the allegations, according to court documents.

A delivery driver said in an affidavit he was present at the store during the confrontation between the Iranmaneshs and two former employees, Dakota Gervais-Brulhart and Blake Dearman.

"I never saw Alex or Keyvan physically touch Blake or Dakota," wrote Andreas Urrea.

"I did not hear Alex or Keyvan make any death threats, threaten to cut Blake's head off, or threaten to murder Blake or Dakota."

Urrea also wrote he hadn't heard about employees not being paid. He wrote he had read CBC's stories about the alleged threats and "cannot believe that the allegations ... are in any way true."

A pizza maker who started the day Gervais-Brulhart and Dearman were fired said he heard raised voices, but saw no physical contact and heard no threats.

The Iranmaneshs are "not the type of people to bully or intimidate," wrote Mostapha Ghelichkhani in an affidavit.

Domino's vows to fight court decision

In the court decision this week, judge Nathan Smith found that if the allegations from the former employees were true, Domino's Canada would have the right under its contract to cut ties with the Iranmaneshs.

However, Smith emphasized the allegations had not been proven either true or false, and said the case could not be decided on the basis of conflicting affidavit evidence.

He granted the brothers an injunction and required Domino's Canada to pay their court costs.

Gervais-Brulart and Dearman told CBC News they continue to stand by their claims.

The lawyer for Domino's Canada said despite the injunction, the company intends to establish in court that it can terminate the franchise.

"We are going to move forward to take the validity of the termination to court. Whatever route that takes," said lawyer Greg Harney.

The lawyer for the Iranmaneshs, Nolan Hurlburt, declined to comment to CBC News Wednesday.

With files from Paisley Woodward and Bal Brach


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