Claims of undue hardship
Former Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC) casino workers are pursuing a class-action lawsuit claiming that the company wrongfully terminated their jobs last year.
over two dozen former employees of the non-unionized Casino Nanaimo are among the plaintiffs
In court documents filed on April 6 in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the ex-employees of the Canada-based gaming, entertainment, and hospitality operator maintain that GCGC acted in bad faith. Over two dozen former employees of the non-unionized Casino Nanaimo are among the plaintiffs in the case. They say they faced undue hardship as a result of GCGC’s actions during the pandemic.
GCGC and its Great Canadian Casinos subsidiary were operating the Casino Nanaimo facility on Vancouver Island before its closure. The class-action lawsuit seeks punitive and aggravated damages for constructive or wrongful dismissal.
Some of the allegations
In the lawsuit, the workers claim they lost their jobs with no proper notice or compensation. They highlight a number of supposed labor law infringements.
For example, after the onset of the pandemic led to the closure of casinos across Canada, GCGC allegedly did not allow workers to utilize their benefits such as banked vacation pay. The company also did not allegedly keep workers up to date about their job status.
workers were unable to access vital government income assistance
GCGC declined to extend the period of temporary layoffs, meaning workers were unable to access vital government income assistance like employment insurance. The former employees were reportedly forced to accept buyouts from GCGC that were worth about a single week of pay for each year of service, capped at eight weeks. The company claimed that this was “severance”. Those who were owed tips allegedly received envelopes of cash last July from the trunk of a manager’s vehicle.
The lawsuit also contains allegations of unsafe working conditions.
Summarizing the issues that the workers have been dealing with, the class-action lawsuit states: “The way Great Canadian has attempted to force destitute workers to take a buyout that leaves them stranded in a month’s time is reprehensible.”
Getting back to business
The lawsuit also notes that the Canada Revenue Agency lists Casino Nanaimo as one of the recipients of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Some parties are now wondering how GCGC used these funds.
The gambling property halted operations on March 16, 2020 because of the pandemic, proceeding with staff layoffs. US private equity firm Apollo Global Management bought GCGC for about US$1.96bn in December 2020, with the deal set to close in the coming months.
GCGC reportedly plans to open Casino Nanaimo once more and to rehire the laid-off workers. Chuck Keeling, GCGC executive vice president of stakeholder relations and responsible gambling, has refused to comment on the lawsuit. He did, however, state: “We are eagerly anticipating the reopening of Casino Nanaimo as early as July 1, subject to receiving approval from the provincial government and [Dr Bonnie Henry] to do so.” Keeling went on to say that the company has recalled 75 workers already.