Human rights complaint filed against Pacific Gateway Hotel
Vancouver, B.C. — In response to mass firings at Pacific Gateway, a federal quarantine facility, a hotel housekeeper has filed a human rights complaint against the hotel on behalf of herself and 89 other women for sex and racial discrimination. The complaint alleges that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, terminations at the hotel disparately impacted women, and women of colour, while men’s jobs were more likely to be protected.
Women, especially women of colour, were disproportionately impacted by Pacific Gateway’s actions, according to the complaint. The federal quarantine hotel fired 142 workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those fired, 90 are women and the majority of them are racialized. Pacific Gateway also terminated 90% of their housekeeping staff, which is overwhelmingly female. While hotel management targeted women workers, they disproportionately protected men’s jobs. The impact of the firings culminated in 74% of all women in the workplace being terminated, while proportionally more men were retained. With more terminations imminent this August, Pacific Gateway is on track to reduce the representation of women in its workforce by almost 20%.
Pacific Gateway was taken over by the federal government for use as a quarantine site last year after the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The Trudeau government displaced laid-off hotel workers, primarily hotel housekeepers, when they contracted out housekeeping to the Red Cross. The federal quarantine hotel refuses to return workers to their jobs when the pandemic passes.
“What my hotel did to me and my co-workers was racist and sexist. The Pacific Gateway has taken advantage of the pandemic to get rid of long-term women workers – many of us women who immigrated to Canada. We made this hotel successful. I raised my kids on this job. Is this what our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls a feminist recovery?” said Kiranjit Dhillon, a fired Pacific Gateway housekeeper who served the hotel for 17 years.
The complaint filed on behalf of the women is seeking reinstatement of all group members to their jobs at Pacific Gateway, compensation for lost wages and injury to dignity, an order against the hotel to stop the discrimination and an admission of their discriminatory behaviour, and steps taken to address racism and sexism at the hotel. This complaint comes after Pacific Gateway workers went on strike in early May. UNITE HERE Local 40 represents workers at the hotel.
UNITE HERE Local 40 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents members in the hotel, food service and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at UniteHereLocal40.org.