UFCW Canada standing in solidarity with social justice activists in BC to support the $10 million class action lawsuit against Denny’s Restaurant.
The British Columbia Director of Employment Standards has found Denny’s Restaurant guilty of contravening section 83 of the province’s Employment Standards Act (ESA).
In a 13-page summary of the decision, Denny’s was found in violation of the Act when it unlawfully terminated Alfredo Sales, a migrant worker who worked for Denny’s from 2008 to 2010.
According to the Employment Standards Director’s determination, the decision of Denny’s to terminate Sales was motivated by the fact that Sales raised issues to his employer about his air fare to and from Canada, the fees he had been charged by International Caregivers Employment Agency (ICEA), and his claim for overtime wages. Prior to his termination in August 2010, Sales had also advised Denny’s that he had been in contact with the Employment Standards branch about the issues he had raised.
As a result of the contravention, an administrative penalty has been imposed on Denny’s. The determination also ordered Denny’s to compensate Sales for lost wages.
Meanwhile, the investigation of the allegation that Sales and the rest of the migrant workers were required to pay for their airfare to Canada is being addressed through the $10 million class action lawsuit filed by Herminia Dominguez on behalf of 50 migrant workers last January. The lawsuit is a precedent-setting case claiming Denny’s breach of the workers’ contracts.
Christopher Foy, one of two counsels for the lawsuit, said that Sales’ case is a sheer illustration of the dire consequences of the self-help model of Employment Standards in British Columbia, which leave the onus of enforcing workers’ rights on individual workers – who, like Alfredo Sales, often face harsh consequences for defending their own rights and dignity.
UFCW Canada Director of Human Rights Naveen Mehta said that the federal government’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program continues to be a shameful treadmill that lures workers to Canada, and then leaves them defenseless and vulnerable. “The fact that Sales and the rest of Denny’s workers have been forced to go to court is yet another blatant example of how the exploitive TFW program turns a blind eye to what happens to migrant workers once they arrive in Canada.”