Richtree at the Eaton Centre is officially a labour-law violator

Richtree at the Eaton Centre is officially a labour-law violator

Here’s a tale of potentially shady restaurant employers getting their comeuppance. The Star reports that on January 7, Ontario’s labour board ruled that Richtree Market, a chain restaurant in the Eaton Centre, violated labour laws by laying off 50 unionized workers. Richtree let the employees go last January when it closed its market-style lunch counter in the mall’s food court. The chain then went and opened a new, renovated outlet about 50 feet away from the old one—and hired all-new, non-union staff.

The board ruled that Richtree couldn’t duck its collective-bargaining obligations by sidling into a new location. “I am not persuaded that in the circumstances of this case, the union’s bargaining rights should be extinguished by a move of some 50 metres across the corridor of the mall,” said board chairman Bernard Fishbein.

While it’s not entirely clear what the decision means for the dismissed employees, it’s definitely a win for restaurant unions. “What this means is that employers can’t simply close operations for renovations and apply for a new street address and throw out the union,” said David Sanders, the organizing director for Unite Here Local 75. “The protections workers need in today’s economy are strengthened and reaffirmed by today’s labour board decision.”