Judge approves class action lawsuit against Pan Pacific for layoffs



The union claims the hotel misled regular hourly workers, wrongly firing them without cause or notice.

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A judge has given the green light to a class action lawsuit against Vancouver’s luxury Pan Pacific hotel over allegations it wrongly fired 100 employees during the pandemic, said a union that filed the complaint on behalf of the workers.


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“The court’s decision to allow the class action lawsuit sends a strong message to hotel employers: misleading your longtime staff for months before mass firing them could have financial consequences,” Zailda Chan said. , president of Unite Here Local. 40, said in a statement.

“This is why this development is a positive step forward for nearly 100 laid-off Pan Pacific employees who deserve much better treatment from their employer.”

The British Columbia Supreme Court lawsuit, which was filed in January, noted that the Pan Pacific, like many hotels hit hard by the pandemic, had seen a sharp decline in business and had taken steps to reduce its workforce.

The union says the hotel misled regular hourly workers, wrongly firing them without cause or notice, and bypassed all severance pay owed to workers for their years of service.


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He alleges that at the start of the pandemic, hotel management detailed plans to drastically reduce its staff from 450 to 80 and lay off the rest. Rather than informing staff of impending layoffs, he sent false messages of hope that they could be rehired.

The union says the hotel began laying off employees in three batches from spring 2020 to minimize its liability for notice or severance pay under the Employment Standards Act.

Romuel Escobar, who had worked at Pan Pacific for almost 25 years and was among the employees made redundant in August 2020, was said to have received only eight weeks of salary. He is the representative of the plaintiffs in the case.

In the ruling on Monday, Judge Sharon Matthews said she was certifying the class action proceedings and appointing Escobar as the plaintiffs’ representative, subject to further comments on the definition of the group.


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The judge said common issues, which will need to be addressed at a later hearing, include whether the hotel has fundamentally changed a clause in the group members’ contracts by canceling their hours due to the impact of COVID-19 .

Other questions include whether the hotel intentionally misled group members about their prospects for continued employment and whether the hotel’s conduct was bossy, malicious, arbitrary or objectionable, resulting in punitive damages were justified.

In February, the union announced that hotel workers had voted for it and joined the union, which represents thousands of hotel workers. The union also filed a human rights complaint against the hotel, alleging it had fired mostly women of color during the pandemic.

The hotel, which opposed certification in court and argued that the claims did not disclose a cause of action, could not be reached.

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