Wednesday, Dec 6, 2017
Migrant worker wins lawsuit
By Natalie Drolet, West Coast Domestic Workers
n Friday, November 24th, the BC Employment Standards Branch determined that a third party recruiter of migrant workers violated the Employment Standards Act and therefore owes one individual thousands of dollars.
Overseas Career and Consulting Services Ltd., a licensed employment agency, and Overseas Immigration Services Inc. are now required to pay Mohammad Hassan Mohammad Shafy $8,721.91. Both were involved in a similar case involving migrant workers who paid thousands to work at BC Mac’s Convenience Store, with the courts recently approving a class-action suit against the store.
It is illegal to charge people money for finding a job in BC. Yet, recruiters routinely charge Temporary Foreign Workers thousands of dollars in illegal recruitment fees for jobs in BC that are often different than promised or do not exist at all. In Mr. Shafy’s case, the job did not exist once he arrived in BC.
Mr. Shafy made the complaint under section 10 of the Employment Standards Act, claiming that he paid the company a fee while he was still in his country of origin, Sri Lanka, to secure him employment in BC.
In Dubai, in 2013, Shafy met with the Director of the employment agency and paid him $3,000 to secure a job at a farm through Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Upon gaining clearance to work in Canada, Mr. Shafy paid the Director another $5,863.54. and then a subsequent $1,682.00. Mr. Shafy then arrived in Canada in February of this year only to find out over the next two months that he did not have the job he was initially promised.
“I felt really bad and I couldn’t eat for two days when I found out,” says Mr. Shafy. “I couldn’t tell my mother and my family.”
In total, including his plane ticket, Mr. Shafy spent between $11,000 and $12,000. And like many other migrant workers, he went into debt in order to pay the fee. “I gave my house to someone and he gave me 11,000,” says Mr. Shafy.
The Determination by the Employment Standards that Mr. Shafy is now owed substantial compensation is therefore a welcome development. And it’s one that the Rising Up Against Unjust Recruitment campaign is hoping to see more of in the future.
The campaign calls on the BC government to take urgent steps to stop the abuse of Temporary Foreign Workers in our province. In particular, BC must take steps to stop recruiters and employers from charging unlawful fees and to help workers to recover these fees more easily. Six other provinces have implemented legislation to better protect migrant workers, including enhanced regulation of recruiters and proactive enforcement. The campaign calls on the provincial government to enact new legislation to protect temporary foreign workers, like require that recruiters of temporary foreign workers be licensed in BC and pay a financial security at the time of licensing; implement a proactive enforcement regime; and provide access to information and advocacy.
For more information and background, please visit here.