British Columbia

Tim Hortons' complaints continue to percolate with B.C. Human Rights Tribunal

A Canadian coffee giant and franchisee have lost their bid to toss out two human rights complaints lodged by Mexican and Filipino workers in rural British Columbia.

Workers allege they endured racist remarks and sub-standard working and living conditions

Temporary foreign workers from Mexico are alleging they were mistreated while working at a Tim Hortons in Dawson Creek, B.C. (Geoff Nixon/CBC)

A Canadian coffee giant and franchisee have lost their bid to toss out a human rights complaint lodged by Mexican workers in northeastern British Columbia.

Edxon Chein, Eric Dessens, Rodolfo Lara and Ruben Ramirez were all hired under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to work in a Tim Hortons franchise in Dawson Creek in 2012.

The workers filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal against Tim Hortons, TDL Group Corp. — a subsidiary that oversees restaurant operations, and franchise operator Tony Van Den Bosch.

They allege they had to endure inferior working conditions, racist and derogatory comments and sub-standard living conditions in accommodations provided by the franchise operator.

A lawyer for Tim Hortons argued before the tribunal that the company wasn't connected to the issues raised in the complaint and that Van Den Bosch operates as independent contractor.

The tribunal didn't make a final decision, but ruled against the application to dismiss the case, ordered it to go to a hearing and urged the parties to seek mediation.

A similar case unfolding in Fernie got the same response, with six Filipino temporary foreign workers bringing a complaint against the Tim Hortons there. They claim they weren't paid overtime and faced discrimination at work by being given undesirable shifts.

The Tribunal made the same decision as in the Dawson Creek case when the coffee shop asked for a dismissal: Tim Hortons cannot absolve itself of responsibility for the actions of its franchisees.

With files from the Canadian Press

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