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Domino's workers in North Vancouver allege exploitation

02/12/2015 10:41 EST | Updated 04/14/2015 05:59 EDT
Two former employees of a Domino's franchise in North Vancouver, B.C. claim their bosses assaulted them and withheld pay for several weeks.

While none of the allegations have been proven in court, the pair have filed complaints with the Employment Standards Branch of B.C. and the police are now investigating if an assault occurred on Feb. 6 at the pizza joint.

Blake Dearman, 21, and Dakota Gervais-Brulhart, 18, allege the operators of the Domino's franchise at 151 West 3 Street have not paid them properly for months and that they were bullied and physically slapped when they demanded they get paid. 

Gervais-Brulhart​ said he's still owed more than $1,500 in past wages and claims he hasn't seen a paycheque in four weeks.

"They'd just flat out lie and say pay day is next week. You'd say 'pay day is today and I've been keeping track of it. I haven't been paid in two weeks' and they'd say 'it's next week,'" said Gervais-Brulhart.

'It felt like slavery'

Dearman and Gervais-Brulhart said they've also never received a pay stub since starting work at the pizza joint in the fall.

"It felt like slavery, I'm gonna be honest,"Gervais-Brulhart​ said.

Last Friday the two coworkers said they confronted their bosses and refused to work on their scheduled shifts until they were paid.

That's when they say things turned violent.

"He [one of the operators] grabbed me by the sleeve and pulled me to the hallway and slapped him [Dearman] in the face, backhanded him, then he kicked me in the back," said Gervais-Brulhart.

"They're yelling ... we don't know who we're messing with," said Gervais-Brulhart.

Gervais-Brulhart had been working at Domino's since October.

Dearman has also filed a complaint with the Employment Standards Branch and with the Workers Compensation Board. He said he was an assistant manager at the Domino's since September 2014.

"I've had some pretty bad bosses but I've never in my life expected something like that would happen," Dearman said.

Gervais-Brulhart said that the employees also had to borrow money from the franchise operators to pay for their lunches, because they hadn't been paid. 

"So we'd all have like $50 worth of food to owe them when they haven't paid us. It was insane," he said.

The pair say they were fired when they confronted their bosses about their wages on Feb. 6. 

RCMP investigation ongoing

North Vancouver RCMP confirm they are investigating if an assault took place last Friday at Domino's, but say it's too early to determine whether charges will be laid.

CBC News repeatedly tried to reach out to the operators of the franchise, but they declined to comment. Domino's Canada said the franchise operators have told head office that the allegations are false.

Domino's said it isn't aware of any complaints against these franchise operators in the past. However, CBC News has learned there has been one previous complaint with the Employment Standards Branch at that location which was subsequently resolved.

The head office said it's taking the matter very seriously and has now launched an internal investigation. 

Noting these were only allegations, Jeff Kacmarek, vice-president of Domino's marketing and product development, said "quite honestly, it turned my stomach. This is not the way we run our business." 

"It's a global brand, nearly 400 stores located across the country, thousands of franchisees."

The company is scheduled to meet with the franchise operators Friday morning and said it is also reaching out to the former employees.

Do you have anything to share on this story? Reach out to the reporter bal.brach@cbc.ca.

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