Four temporary foreign workers from Mexico who worked for Tim Hortons in northern B.C. have filed a human rights complaint alleging their boss exploited and discriminated against them by doubling their rent and the bunks in their rooms.
Eugene Kung, a lawyer with the B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre, says the four were working at two Tim Hortons locations in Dawson Creek.
'When Tim Hortons advertises the double-double, I don’t believe this is what most Canadians had in mind.' —Eugene Kung, B.C. Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Kung said the employees were required to share rooms in two five-bedroom homes owned by their boss, Tony Van Den Bosch.
"They had no privacy in the house. The owner would come in and out as he pleased and would enter people's rooms," Kung said.
In addition, Kung said, the workers were asked to pay rent once at the beginning of the month, and an additional $200 "tip" on top of their monthly rent in the middle of the month, for the double-bunked rooms.
Kung said the employer received about $4,000 a month in rent by doubling up the rooms and doubling the rents.
"When Tim Hortons advertises the double-double, I don’t believe this is what most Canadians had in mind," Kung said in a statement released on Friday morning.
He alleged the employees were also subject to racist comments at work.
"Derogatory racist comments included '[expletive] Mexican workers are lazy' and 'Mexican idiots,' while the employer described himself as the owner of their lives," said Kung.
The employer also regularly asked the workers from Mexico for their passports and would hold them for periods of time, alleged Kung.
"Two of them were fired and sent back to Mexico after raising concerns about their working and living conditions. Two of them actually fled in the middle of the night one night because they were so afraid."
The human rights complaint has been filed against both Van Den Bosch and the Tim Hortons franchise. Additional complaints have also been filed with the Ministry of Labour regarding the employer’s breaches of the Employment Standards Act, said Kung.
Neither Van Den Bosch nor Tim Hortons could be reached for comment.