Casino Nanaimo is looking forward to reopening but nearly 30 employees won’t be coming back.
They’re part of a class-action lawsuit claiming wrongful dismissal after being let go in the COVID-19 ordered closure in March 2020.
And while jobs have been protected for some workers, more than two-dozen other casino employees say they were effectively terminated.
“The government had said for the companies to file for an extension for the layoffs and the company did not do so. When we contacted employment we were considered terminated,” said Fatima De Sousa, one of those involved in the suit.
The casino claims the employees were not terminated. However, employees say the lack of action and communication means they were effectively let go.
“At that point, we weren’t getting any answers from them so we sought legal advice and that’s what has started all of this,” said Kim Bussiere, another former Casino Nanaimo employee.
Also part of the legal action is Wade Graham who worked at the casino before a lung transplant a couple of years ago.
“They withheld my hours so I wouldn’t get a pension. I believe I had 34.75 hours a week where I needed 35 hours. This is what the company is like. They will do anything to save a buck,” said Graham, a former card dealer.
It comes shortly after the Great Canadian Casino’s CEO resigned after being accused of travelling with his wife to the Yukon for early vaccinations.
The company and its 26 properties, including Nanaimo, have also been sold to American firm Appollo Global Management. The change in ownership has yet to take place.
Nanaimo’s mayor says with the city receiving $2.71 million from Nanaimo Casino in 2019 ,he’s keen to see it reopen.
“[I] can’t comment on the change in ownership. Clearly, the courts will sort out what is fair and just and proper with respect to employees who may have been wrongfully terminated or not dealt with appropriately,” said Leonard Krog.
In a statement, Great Canadian Gaming says it’s called back 75 employees for the reopening of Casino Nanaimo slated for July 1.
Both sides are gambling they’ll be proven right in the courts.