Class-action litigation – new tool for unions?

Denny’s case in B.C. may signal beginning of different organizing strategy
By Tom Roper
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/26/2013

On March 5, 2012, the Supreme Court of British Columbia certified a class action brought on behalf of temporary foreign workers recruited to work at a Denny’s Restaurant franchise in Vancouver — Dominguez v. Northland Properties Corp (COB Denny’s Restaurants).

The lawsuit alleged recruiting companies engaged by the Denny’s franchisee charged agency fees contrary to the Employment Standards Act. It also claimed damages, aggravated damages and punitive damages against the franchisee for breach of contract in failing to pay overtime and provide 40 hours of work per week as promised, as well as breach of fiduciary duty, a duty of good faith and fair dealing, and unjust enrichment.

The decision is significant because it is one of very few class actions certified in B.C. arising in an employment context. Moreover, it may signal the beginning of a new organizing strategy by unions in difficult-to-organize sectors.