The Hudson’s Bay Company sign in downtown Toronto, Wednesday July 16, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Hudson’s Bay Company sign in downtown Toronto, Wednesday July 16, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Hudson’s Bay permanently laying off more than 600 workers across Canada

The permanent layoffs represent less than 5% of the company’s total workforce

Hudson’s Bay Co. is permanently laying off more than 600 workers across Canada amid ongoing store closures due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

Nearly half the company’s department stores remain temporarily closed, said Tiffany Bourre, a spokeswoman for the iconic retailer.

“The pandemic continues to have a significant impact on non-essential retailers,” she said in an emailed statement. “Due to these circumstances beyond our control, the company has had to make adjustments which have resulted in a reduction in workforce.”

The permanent layoffs represent less than five per cent of the company’s total workforce, Bourre said.

She added that it was “an incredibly tough decision” and that HBC is committed to treating each individual affected with fairness and respect during these difficult times.

Yet employment lawyer Lior Samfiru said his firm has been contacted by about 40 HBC workers concerned about the terms of their termination.

READ ALSO: Landlords sue Hudson’s Bay for unpaid rent, retailer says malls aren’t ‘first class’

Samfiru, a partner with Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, said the terminated workers he has spoken with claim they are not being offered adequate severance, and such a situation could be considered a wrongful dismissal.

The employees have received a so-called working notice, he said, which means they are expected to work until their termination date.

Yet he calls such a notice when stores aren’t open and employees can’t work “absurd,” and said HBC should be providing payment in lieu of notice.

Samfiru said his law firm will be engaging HBC on behalf of terminated employees to ensure “they get what they’re owed.”

None of the allegations have been tested in court.

Meanwhile, he said the workers, both part-time and full-time, have worked for the retailer for between 10 and 30 years, predominantly in sales and middle management at stores in the Toronto area, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver.

READ ALSO: Victoria Hudson’s Bay referenced in legal petition against Penticton store

He says some workers have mentioned specifically a “national restructuring.”

Non-essential retailers have been hammered during the pandemic, with stores across the country closed or facing strict capacity restrictions.

Last month, HBC asked the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to review the province of Ontario’s decision to temporarily close non-essential retailers.

A lawyer for the department store retailer said the province’s regulations make no “rational distinction” between the department store and some of the big box and discount retailers which are allowed to remain open.

The court dismissed HBC’s bid to amend Ontario’s retail lockdown rule, but questioned what it called the “wisdom and efficacy”’ of the province’s lockdown measures.

In its decision, a panel of the court’s judges said allowing big box stores that happen to sell groceries to remain fully open — potentially generating more customer traffic — is “open to question.”

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press

Business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students from Summerland’s Okanagan College often posed for photographs on the Big Rock. The rock was on the northern slope of Giant’s Head Mountain. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Summerland’s Big Rock had been deposited during last ice age

Rock was once a prominent feature on Giant’s Head Mountain

The Fortunato family received the Bill Neilson Volunteer of the Year Award for their efforts with the Summerland Skating Club. (Contributed)
Summerland Skating Club members recognized for efforts

Three awards presented to members of Summerland club

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

The dam at Thirsk Lake, west of Summerland, was expanded in 2007. A crack has now been discovered where the old and new portions of the dam meet. (Summerland Review file photo)
Crack at Thirsk Dam to be examined

Reservoir west of Summerland was expanded in 2007

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Numbers of new COVID-19 cases for the week of Feb. 14 to 20 appear to be trending down for all local health areas in the North Okanagan-Shuswap. (BC Centre for Disease Control map)
Colours on COVID-19 map getting lighter for North Okanagan-Shuswap

Number of new weekly cases reported by BC Centre for Disease Control drop throughout region

Royal LePage Place, along with the adjacent Jim Lind Arena are the two ice arenas operated by the City of West Kelowna..—Image credit: contributed
$442,200 to replace aging ammonia chiller at West Kelowna arena

West Kelowna is the recipient of a provincial grant to replace the ammonia chiller

The husband wife team of Brett Turner and Olivia Fobert are the bakers and makers behind Joy Road Catering who are opening up a pop up bakeshop this May in the former Craft Kitchen. (Facebook)
Pop-up bakeshop opening in downtown Penticton

Joy Road Catering’s Bakeshop will be offering breads, pastries, lunch bowls and a marketplace

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Major renovations are planned for the Centennial Outdoor Rink in Vernon. - Photo submitted
$695K grant to get Vernon rink ready for next season

Provincial funding will go toward replacing chiller at Centennial Outdoor Rink

Smoke dissipates as fire crews respond to smoke that was billowing from a residential building in the 400 block of Fourth Avenue SE in Salmon Arm about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Residents displaced following Salmon Arm apartment fire

Crews were called to the scene at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 24

A chocolate banana cream pie, similar to the smaller version pictured, baked by the Shuswap Pie Company’s Tovah Shantz, fetched $5,000 in this year’s Heritage Week pie auction fundraiser for R.J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum. (Shuswap Pie Company photo)
Made-in-Shuswap pie fetches $5,000 in fundraiser

Heritage Week pie auction raises $51,500 for R.J. Haney Heritage Village & Museum

BC49 logo
$75K lotto ticket sold in Vernon

Check your tickets, someone is winning big through the BC/49

Most Read