Vancouver, BC — Today, UNITE HERE Local 40 announced that a class action lawsuit has been filed against the Pan Pacific Vancouver on behalf of workers wrongfully terminated during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The suit, which was filed on behalf of current and former hourly employees, alleges the hotel misled workers, wrongfully terminated them without cause or notice, and were cheated out of pay owed to them for their years of service. The case was filed by a long-term employee who had worked at the hotel for 24 years until he was unexpectedly terminated along with dozens of his co-workers in August.
Early in the pandemic, hotel management concocted a plan to drastically reduce its staff from 450 workers to 80 and to dismiss the rest. Instead of informing workers of their plans, the company sent workers repeated messages delivering false hope suggesting they intended to bring workers back.
Pan Pacific began terminating staff in batches, without cause or advance notice. The suit alleges that the hotel did this to avoid group termination provisions in the Employment Standards Act that requires advance notice and would trigger larger payouts to workers.
Between firings, the hotel offered workers $250 to sign a contract taking away their regular full-time status to become casual, on-call workers and waive their severance rights. Those who refused to sign were among those fired.
“The Pan Pacific’s actions were dishonest, self-serving, and reprehensible. Rather than keep their workforce intact, the hotel failed to communicate its termination plan to workers and strung them along with no regard for their future at a time when unemployment in the hotel sector has reached Depression-era levels. No hotel should be allowed to get away with this, which is why Pan Pacific workers are fighting back for what they deserve,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE Local 40.
Many of the affected Pan Pacific workers are immigrants and women with families who have served the hotel for more than 20 or even 30 years. Had the hotel properly notified workers of its plans to drastically reduce its workforce, this class of workers could have been entitled to receive significant payouts. If successful, workers could be owed as much as $3 million.
The high-end Pan Pacific Vancouver, located at Canada Place, is owned by an affiliate of Westmont Hospitality Group. Westmont is one of the world’s largest privately held hospitality companies with over 500 hotels worldwide.
UNITE HERE Local 40 is a labour union representing workers in the hotel, food service and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.