Mexico: Harmon Hall-02/Puerto Vallarta
Fair treatment, compensation
Harmon Hall is a large English language school chain in Mexico, with a network of 110 English schools in 63 cities and over 40,000 students in the entire system. Harmon Hall also has two K-12 schools and plans to grow this business line. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) provides Harmon Hall with an equity investment that consists of two components: (i) the purchase of a selling shareholder’s shares and (ii) a capital increase in Harmon Hall to finance the expansion plans of the company over a period of 18 months. IFC will provide a $7.9 million equity investment.
In September 2013, a former teacher of Harmon Hall lodged a complaint with CAO. The complainant raises concerns around the circumstances of his dismissal and his severance package. This is the second complaint received by the CAO relating to the Harmon Hall Project. The complaint further alleges that several of the agreements made in response to the first complaint are not being implemented in his school. To view details of the Harmon Hall-01 complaint click on the link to the case below.
CAO determined the Harmon Hall-02 complaint eligible in October 2013 and initiated an assessment to explore options for addressing the issues by the complainant. This assessment was conducted jointly with the assessment on Harmon Hall complaints 03–06, that were determined eligible in November 2013.
However, as the complainant and Harmon Hall could not agree to engage in a collaborative dispute resolution process, CAO concluded the assessment of the complaint and the case was transferred to the CAO Compliance function for appraisal, as per CAO’s Operational Guidelines.
For the purpose of the compliance appraisal, Harmon Hall complaints 02, 03, 04, 05 and 06 were merged with complaint 08, that was deemed eligible in March 2014. CAO completed a compliance appraisal with regard to the Harmon Hall 02-06 and 08 complaints in April 2015. On the basis of this appraisal, CAO concluded that absent aggravating circumstances, disputes between an employer and individual employees around issues of pay and benefits do not raise substantial concerns regarding the E&S outcomes of an IFC investment such that would merit a CAO compliance investigation. While CAO has identified questions as to IFC’s appraisal and supervision of its investment in the company, CAO also notes that IFC is supervising this investment with a focus on the implementation of Performance Standard 2 (Labor and Working Conditions). Given the nature of the complaints, and considering IFC’s ongoing engagement with the company in relation to the implementation of Performance Standard 2, CAO found that a compliance investigation was not the appropriate response in this instance. As a result, in accordance with its Operational Guidelines, CAO has decided to close this case.
CAO's appraisal report, providing a full description of CAO's decision with regard to this case, is available under "View Documents" below. As of April 13, 2015, CAO has closed the case with no further action.
Status as of April 13, 2015