A number of Ontario cases have led to serious periods of incarceration for individuals who have refused to comply with “orders to pay” issued by the Ministry of Labour. These persons were either the employer directly or directors of the relevant companies.
The Precedent Cases
In 2013 Peter Check was sent to prison for 90 days and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine due to his failure to pay student lifeguards approximately $70,000. His pattern was to close the business by the end of the summer season and claim he was financially insolvent.
Similarly, Steven Bondin was sentenced to 90 days in jail and also ordered to pay $280,000 in wages and fines. Blondin was a director of six Ontario companies and avoided payment of wages for 61 employees of these companies. The Ministry issued 113 orders to pay, none of which received compliance.
In August of 2018, the director of a restaurant chain was also ordered to serve 90 days in jail for unpaid wages. Yuk Ellen Pun was also fined $900,000 for failing to comply with an earlier order to pay wages. The relevant companies she controlled owed 68 employees $676,000 in salary, overtime, vacation, public holiday pay and termination sums.
In each instance, these persons unsuccessfully pleaded insolvency. Prison time is sought infrequently but it is certainly a remedy available to the Ministry under section 132 of the Employment Standards Act.
This is clearly a serious issue for employers and employees alike. A person in a senior position should never countenance the failure to pay wages and certainly cannot be cavalier about an order to pay issued by the Ministry.
If you are an employee who has not been paid, you should seek legal advice immediately to determine if a Ministry of Labour complaint or other strategy is right for you. The prospect of facing an order to pay can lead to immediate action. You will also be protected from any retaliatory discipline.
Get Advice and Know Your Rights
This issue is serious business. Get Advice. For advice on all employment law matters, contact the offices of Toronto employment lawyers Grosman Gale Fletcher Hopkins. We regularly advise workplace parties on a wide range of legal workplace issues. Contact us online or by phone at 416-364-9599 to schedule a consultation.
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