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

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read