Employer broke law by firing migrant worker, Labour Relations Board rules
KITCHENER -- The Labour Relations Board has ruled that an employer broke the law firing a migrant worker who spoke out against health and safety conditions at a Norfolk County Farm.
The decision was sent to CTV News by the Migrant Workers Alliance. It said Scotlynn Sweetpac Growers Incorporated broke the law in firing Gabriel Flores. He spoke to the media about his concerns about the farm during a COVID-19 outbreak.
"This is an urgent matter because every time that we complain, the employers have the power to send us back home," Flores said through a translator.
Karen Cocq with the Migrant Workers Alliance said this is the first decision of its kind.
"It really made history and will pave the way for other workers to know that they have the power to stand up for themselves and hopefully send a message to employers that they can't get away with this kind of behaviour with impunity," Cocq said.
The report said the the employer "accused Mr. Flores of being in the [MEDIA] video and then told Mr. Flores that he was being sent back to Mexico in the 'wee hours of the night.'"
It also said the employer later denied the interaction, claiming the boss was not in the room and that the discussion never happened. The employer testified he was on his boat on Lake Erie when the alleged firing happened.
The hearing had multiple witnesses and cross-examinations. The Labour Relations Board ruled that Flores was fired, and that it was done illegally.
“For the most part, I found the witnesses called on behalf of the applicant [FLORES] to be more credible than the witnesses called on behalf of the employer,” the ruling said.
Cocq said their group will continue to push for better regulations.
"What we want is for workers to have permanent residency so that they can have the choice to leave bad jobs," she said.
The board also ordered Scotlynn to pay Flores around $25,000.
The company can appeal the decision if new evidence is presented.
CTV News contacted Scotlynn for a comment but didn't hear back before 4:30 p.m.