Temporary foreign workers defend right to see evidence against them in human rights complaint against Tim Hortons

On March 27 and 28, 2014, four former temporary foreign workers from Mexico will be represented in Supreme Court to defend an order by the BC Human Rights Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) that requires Tim Hortons to disclose its corporate Operating Manual to them.

The workers filed a human rights complaint against Tim Hortons alleging that they suffered race-based discrimination in their employment and with respect to their tenancy while working for Tim Hortons restaurants in Dawson Creek, BC.  The workers were subject to racist and derogatory comments in the workplace and were required to live in substandard conditions once they arrived in Dawson Creek, BC.  Tim Hortons applied to the Tribunal to have the complaint against it dismissed without a hearing.

The workers are represented by lawyers from the Community Legal Assistance Society (“CLAS”) and BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre.  They are defending the decision of the Tribunal, which ruled they were entitled to have access to the evidence that Tim Hortons relied on in an application to have their human rights complaint dismissed.  This evidence included Tim Hortons’ Operating Manual. 

Tim Hortons is denying any role or liability in the alleged discrimination. Tim Hortons says that the Operating Manual contains highly confidential and proprietary information about its operations that must be protected and, as a result, the Tribunal’s order is overly broad. 

Devyn Cousineau, a lawyer from CLAS representing the workers, said, “[t]his case rests on a simple idea: if Tim Hortons wants to rely on evidence to have the workers’ human rights complaint dismissed without a hearing, then the workers are entitled to see it”. 

The workers’ complaint was originally filed in November 2012. Cousineau explains, “the complaint has been stalled at a very early stage in the process.  This court application only adds further delay to the workers’ attempt to have their complaint heard”.

The Tribunal’s decision under review can be found here.

The written submissions on behalf of the workers are found here.