Hudson’s Bay accused of shorting employees’ severance pay amid coronavirus pandemic
A Toronto employment lawyer is alleging that the Hudson’s Bay Company short-changed more than 90 employees on severance benefits, one day after the retailer asked the workers to accept a 25 per cent pay cut as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“HBC is seeking to avoid paying fair severance packages that are legally owed to these individuals during these difficult times,” said Lior Samfiru, partner with Toronto-based Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, an employment law firm.
Samfiru says 94 employees working in management and administration roles in the Greater Toronto area are affected. Some who consulted the law firm were given a severance deadline of Friday, April 24, he said.
According to Samfiru, the temporary pay cuts took effect on April 16. The next day, the employees were suddenly terminated, he said. The severance packages offered to employees were based on their newly reduced salaries, instead of the pre-reduction ones, he claims.
The difference could add up to months of severance in some cases, said Samfiru, who described the move as “unconscionable.”
“A large organization like that cannot plead ignorance, they should know better,” said Samfiru, who explains that such action would violate common law in Canada.
“I would have expected much better,” of the Hudson’s Bay Company, said Samfiru, especially for an organization with deep roots to Canadian identity.
The company, founded in 1670, is Canada’s oldest retailer and one of the nation’s oldest incorporated companies. It is now owned by NRDC Equity Partners, a private investment firm based in Purchase, NY.