Franchisee suing McDonald’s following temporary foreign worker accusations
VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail
A former McDonald’s franchisee who says he was forced to give up control of three restaurants is suing the fast-food chain’s Canadian arm, alleging it cost him millions of dollars even though a government review of his use of temporary foreign workers ultimately cleared him of wrongdoing.
Glen Bishop has filed a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court against McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd. The company has not yet filed its response.
Mr. Bishop’s notice of civil claim says an April, 2014, report by CBC’s Go Public news segment accused his Victoria restaurants of giving more shifts to temporary foreign workers than Canadian workers.
He said he was delivered a letter by McDonald’s representatives that same day that said he could not continue as an owner and operator. He said he was told he would not get any compensation if he did not immediately sign a letter agreeing to transfer the restaurants over to McDonald’s.
Mr. Bishop said a January, 2015, letter from the then-minister of employment Jason Kenney said its review was complete and the suspension against Mr. Bishop and his company, Nasib Services Inc., had been lifted. But he said McDonald’s formally terminated its agreements with him in March, 2015, causing him extensive losses.
Wally Oppal, the former judge, inquiry commissioner and provincial cabinet minister who is serving as Mr. Bishop’s lawyer, said Mr. Bishop and his company were “sacrificial lambs.”
“Everybody jumped the gun and they did not get a fair hearing,” Mr. Oppal said in an interview Thursday.
McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada said in a statement it has been notified of the claim, which was filed two weeks ago. It said it would be inappropriate to comment on the matter at this time, since it is before the courts.
None of the allegations in the lawsuit have been proven in court.
Mr. Bishop’s lawsuit says he entered into franchise agreements for two of the McDonald’s restaurants in 2009, with the agreements set to run until 2029. He was to operate the third restaurant until July, 2014, at which point he would have the opportunity to enter into an additional franchise agreement.
The lawsuit says Mr. Bishop paid McDonald’s $1.6-million in all. However, it says he only received $600,000 when the agreements were terminated.
Mr. Oppal said Mr. Bishop’s losses are likely between $4-million and $6-million when issues such as loss of profits are factored in. Mr. Bishop is also seeking punitive damages and special costs.
The lawsuit says Mr. Bishop was not allowed to wait a day to consult with a lawyer when he first received the letter from McDonald’s advising him he could not continue in his role. He said he did not want to sign, but was concerned he would get nothing if he refused. He said he was assured by McDonald’s representatives that it would be “more than fair.”
Mr. Bishop says in his suit McDonald’s breached the franchise agreements and its duty of honesty. He says it was “motivated by negative publicity.”
The notice of civil claim says a McDonald’s spokesman initially said staffing at an individual restaurant can change day by day. But hours later, as the story spread, the same spokesman announced McDonald’s would terminate its relationship with the operator of the three restaurants, the lawsuit alleges.
The Conservative government announced changes to the temporary foreign worker program in June, 2014. It said at the time the changes would ensure Canadians were first in line for available jobs, and it vowed to strengthen enforcement and penalties.
The current Liberal government has said it plans to launch a full-scale review of the program.
“I think it is timely for a serious review of the whole program,” Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk said in February. “We would like to put it forward to a House committee to review, and there are issues on this program from coast to coast to coast.”