McDonald's franchisee sues fast food giant over temporary foreign worker controversy
Lawsuit alleges Victoria franchises did not break temporary foreign worker rules after government review
A former Victoria franchisee is suing McDonald's Restaurants of Canada for abruptly ending their relationship after accusations of favouring temporary foreign workers over Canadians, which would have violated rules of the federally-regulated program.
Glen Bishop and Nasib Services filed the lawsuit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia last month, claiming McDonald's Canada breached its franchise agreement, costing them millions of dollars.
Wally Oppal, a Vancouver lawyer representing the Victoria franchisee, says his clients feel they were wronged because McDonald's Canada terminated their agreement without any kind of a hearing.
"Our people are small people, they're a husband and wife team. And you get a multinational organization like McDonald's come in and they did not care at all about fairness," Oppal said.
""Everybody jumped to conclusions. Everybody jumped the gun," he said.
The foreign worker controversy
The three Victoria fast food franchises were at the centre of CBC Go Public reports in 2014 alleging they were bringing in foreign workers, while cutting local employee hours, and turning away local job applicants.
As a result of CBC enquiries, the federal government acted swiftly, initiating a probe into the alleged abuse of the temporary foreign worker program. It immediately suspended all of the franchise's applications for temporary foreign workers, blacklisting Bishop and Services from hiring workers from abroad.
McDonald's Canada ended its relationship with the Victoria franchisee and said it had begun its own internal review of the use of the temporary foreign worker program at all of its restaurants.
The franchisee alleges Deloitte LLP, hired by McDonald's to carry out the audit, identified breaches relating to the program at other McDonald's restaurants across Canada. They claim that to the best of their knowledge, McDonald's has not terminated any of those franchise agreements as a result.
By June 2014, then federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney, announced a major overhaul of the temporary foreign worker program including caps on foreign workers and increased inspections.
'They feel vindicated'
Glen Bishop and Nasib Services also allege in their lawsuit that Kenney sent them a letter dated January 14, 2015, confirming that they had not broken the rules of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the suspension of their applications was lifted after a government review of their franchise's Labour Market Opinions.
"There's no question they feel vindicated," Oppal said. "Those allegations were not proven, but McDonald's moved in a response to political statements made. That's what happened here."
CBC Go Public asked Employment and Social Development Canada if they would confirm that after their investigation they exonerated the Victoria franchisee, but the federal department said it could not comment on lawsuits. However, Bishop and Nasib Services no longer appear on the department's public blacklist of employers who have broken the rules of the temporary foreign program.
McDonald's Restaurants of Canada says it has been notified of the claim, but added that it would be "inappropriate to comment" because it is before the courts. The company has not filed a response
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
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