Migrant worker fired for speaking about COVID 19 wins labour case against farm

A farm in Norfolk County, Ont., that was gripped by a COVID-19 outbreak in the spring has been ordered to pay damages to a migrant worker it fired in retaliation for speaking out about working conditions.

The Ontario Labour Review Board says Scotlynn Sweetpac Growers Inc. fired Gabriel Flores in June and immediately sent him back to Mexico after he privately and publicly expressed concerns over working and living conditions.

Matthew R. Wilson, alternate chair of the OLRB, says in his decision that Flores confronted his supervisor about living in close quarters in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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He notes that the confrontation came after Flores was diagnosed with the virus, and his roommate and coworker died of it.

Wilson says the then-owner of Scotlynn, Robert Biddle, thought he saw Flores in a media video where people were speaking about the conditions on farms, and said he would send the worker back to Mexico in the “wee hours of the night.”

He ordered the farm to pay Flores a total of $25,000, including $16,811 for lost wages and $5,000 for pain and suffering.

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