Workers win first round against Tim Hortons

Jona Pineda alleges her boss agreed to help her apply for permanent residency only if she could get a former employee, Richard Pepito, to drop his complaint with the B.C. Employment Standards Branch. (CBC)

VANCOUVER– Filipino and Mexican temporary workers in Fernie and Dawson Creek have won their bids to have their complaints against Tim Horton’s proceed to a hearing.
The complainants, employed under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, argued they were discriminated against because of their race, ancestry and place of origin.
Filipino couple

Filipino couple Jona and Chris Pineda, filed the original complaint against the Fernie franchise in 2013, accusing them of cheating in their overtime pay.

They were later joined by four other Filipino workers in their case at the B.C. Human Rights Commission.

The Pinedas’ won an extension of their temporary permits from Immigration Canada which means they will will be in the country to testify at the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing. They can also apply to become permanent residents.

The union alleged the Filipino workers were denied overtime premiums, given less-desirable shifts and threatened with being returned home.

The Mexican workers alleged they were subjected to inferior working conditions, racist and derogatory comments and forced to live in sub-standard living conditions.

None of the allegations has been proven.

Named as respondents were Tim Hortons Inc. (TSX:THI); TDL Group Corp., a subsidiary that oversees restaurant operations; Fernie franchisees Pierre Pelletier and Kristin Hovind-Pelletier; and Dawson Creek franchisee Tony Van Den Bosch.
BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre (BCPIAC) and Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) are representing the workers in their complaint against both the individual franchise owner and the franchisor, Tim Hortons.

The Tribunal rejected Tim Hortons’ argument that the workers’ relationship was solely with the franchise owner, not the company.

The workers countered that the company contributed to the discrimination they experienced by promoting the use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) among its franchisees, yet failing to adopt business practices that would protect those workers from being mistreated.

The workers also argued that since the company exercises strong control over all aspects of its franchise locations, Tim Hortons must be considered to be their employer in addition to the individual franchisee.

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