Is Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchisor DBRI the Harvey Weinstein of franchising? Some Dickey’s franchise owners see similarities between the movie mogul who allegedly victimized young women then threatened and bullied them into silence through the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). What do you think? Share a comment below.
(UnhappyFranchisee.Com) The dark side of non-disclosure agreements by serial abusers is a topic that has come to the forefront as the media reports on the methods allegedly used by movie industry mogul Harvey Weinstein to keep current and past victims silent – and to prevent them from warning would-be potential victims he had not yet abused.
Franchisees contend that Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchisor DBRI uses legal clauses and non-disclosure and non-disparagement requirements in order to silence the franchisees it intends to victimize – and to keep them from warning prospective franchise investors by telling them their negative experiences as franchise owners.
Here is wording from the current Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchise agreement.
With wording that would make authoritarian dictators proud, DBRI goes so far as prohibiting communication of any criticism or the expression of a negative opinion by a Dickey’s owner/operator or an investor in a Dickey’s franchise:
Neither you nor your Owner/Operator nor any of your Investors shall publish or communicate in any way (or assist, encourage, or support) to any third party any statement that might reasonably be construed to be disparaging, defamatory, derogatory, negative, or critical of the personal or business reputation, acumen, skill, practices, or conduct of Dickey’s, its subsidiaries, or affiliates, including each party’s respective officers, directors or employees, in connection with this Agreement or any prior agreement between the parties and the purchase and operation of any Dickey’s Barbecue Pit® Restaurant and franchise. With regard to the this provision, the person alleged to have violated this provision agrees to waive his/her rights to prior restraint on speech and consents to the issuance of a temporary restraining order, temporary injunction, or other available injunctive relief designed to prevent any further breach of this provision.
Dickey’s must have really planned on generating some negative online opinions to come up with this bit of WTF legal tomfoolery. It claims that anyone caught criticizing or uttering a negative word about Supreme Leader DBRI must assign all copyrights to its negative communications to Dickey’s.
Hopefully, the attorneys out there can even explain if this is an actual thing, or if Roland Dickey, Jr. and his crack legal team have been smoking more than brisket:
Additionally, if you or your Owner/Operator or any of your Investors publish or communicate any statement to a third-party that is disparaging, defamatory, derogatory, negative, or critical of the personal or business reputation, acumen, skill, practices, or conduct of Dickey’s, its subsidiaries, or affiliates, including each party’s respective officers, directors or employees the other party, you and your Owner/Operator and your Investors agree to assign all copyrights to such publications or communications to Dickey’s. You and your Owner/Operator and your Investors agree to take whatever action (including signing assignment or other documents) that Dickey’s requests to evidence its ownership or to help Dickey’s obtain intellectual property rights in the copyrights to such publications or communications.
Another seemingly over-the-top and absurd clause in the Dickey’s Franchise Agreement is their requirement that franchisees state that they are entering into the 20-year agreement and investing hundreds of thousands of dollars but are “not relying upon any information, representation or promise by Dickey’s…”
Seriously? Franchisees didn’t rely on any information provided by Dickey’s?
You, your Owner/Operator and your Investors hereby acknowledge that they are not relying upon any information, representation or promise by Dickey’s in entering this Agreement or in connection with the relationship contemplated hereunder. FRANCHISEE FURTHER WAIVES ANY CLAIM OF NEGLIGENT MISREPRESENTATION OR FRAUDULENT INDUCEMENT.
The last line of that excerpt seems especially foreboding. To me, it reads like “After you realize that you were fraudulently induced and given negligent misrepresentations you agreed you didn’t rely on, we will show you how we graciously warned you of what was coming… in ALL CAPS.”
One could argue that the legal language of the franchise agreement, taken together, indicates that not only is Dickey’s accustomed to claims of negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent inducement, and negative opinions shared by angry franchisees and investors, it has no intention of diminishing those complaints – just crushing them.
One could argue that the most insidious affront of serial abusers is that they force their victims into becoming silent, unwilling accomplices… preventing them from warning future victims.
Thankfully, there are plenty of Dickey’s franchise owners and former owners, and DBRI employees and former employees, willing to share what they know in the hopes of ending the circle of abuse by arguably franchising’s worst abuser, Dickey’s Franchise Restaurants, Inc. (DBRI).
However, this is just my opinion… please share yours below.
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