A complaint has been filed with B.C. Employment Standards Branch against the owner of Fernie Tim Hortons by former employees Richard Pepito and Heidi Kibanoff. The couple was hired under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program by Pierre Pelletier, owner of the Fernie and Crowsnest Pass franchises.
Allegations include Pelletier making employees pay back a portion of their overtime wages to him in cash. Pelletier is also accused of charging employees the processing fees for renewing their temporary work permits, which according to regulations, the employer is responsible for paying.
“We’re reviewing the allegations and can say that we are treating the matter seriously and are currently conducting a review in full cooperation with B.C. Employment Standards,” commented, Tim Horton’s Public Affairs Manager, Olga Petrycki.
The East Kootenay Labour Council is assisting the couple with the case. Alex Hanson, executive for the Council said, “We were told they weren’t getting over-time on their regular paycheck. The employer would pay their overtime on a separate cheque, drive them to the bank to cash it, then ask for some of the cash back telling them it was for their own good.
“The problem is the employers have too much power over their employees,” said Hanson. “They come here to obtain a better life and the employer is the gatekeeper.
“The Labour Council is not going away until the owner makes it right.”
David Currie, Public Affairs Officer Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour said “There is an open complaint against the Tim Hortons in Fernie. However under the Employment Standards Act the ministry does not comment on open Employment Standards complaints.”
Worker’s complaints made to the Employment Standards Branch can go through the four routes of resolution, mediation, adjudication and/or penalty. Pepito and Kibanoff’s case is scheduled to go before an adjudicator on Feb. 13, 2014 in Kelowna. At that time, penalties may or may not be levied.
“We have been cooperating since the allegations have come up and are continuing to fully cooperate with B.C. Employment Standards,” said Kristine Hovind–Pelletier, Pierre Pelletier’s wife in a statement to The Free Press.
There are currently 12 Filipino employees at the Fernie Tim Hortons working under a Temporary Worker Permit.