Flores Wins Reprisal Claim Against Employer

By: Laura Steiner
Gabriel Flores Flores has won a record claim against his employer.  Flores, a migrant worker with Scottlynn Farms, was fired for speaking to the media after testing positive for COVID-19.
“We should not have to resort to these legal measures, most migrant workers don’t have that opportunity.  My case is not the only one and many are far worse,” he said.  The Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) granted Flores $25,000 including $5,000 for pain and suffering.  Flores’ bunkmate Juan Lopez Chaparro died from COVID19 in June.
The OLRB addressed the employee-employer relationship.  “The power imbalance between the employer and Mr. Flores as a migrant worker who does not speak English and relies on the employer for wages, shelter and transportation, should have been more carefully managed since a reprisal can strike a far deeper wound that might otherwise occur in the traditional employment relationship,” Alternate Chair Matthew Wilson wrote in their decision.  Flores spoke out on labour exploitation and substandard housing, and was featured in the Toronto Star, and Globe & Mail in June
Flores arrived from Mexico, and quarantined for two weeks.  His colleague was diagnosed with COVID-19 two weeks after they started working on the farm, but no testing was done.  One worker became so ill that an ambulance had to be called.  Five workers were then hospitalized with COVID-19.  Approximately 200 workers then tested positive.  Scotlynn farms is the largest recorded migrant farmworker COVID-19 outbreak to-date.