A director of six Ontario companies has been sentenced to 90
days in jail after those companies systematically ignored orders to
pay wages issued by the Ontario Ministry of Labour. The Ontario
Employment Standards Act, 2000 does allow individuals to
be fined up to $50,000.00 and/or to be imprisoned for up to 12
months if convicted of an offence, although the imposition of jail
time for employment standards violations has been exceedingly
However, the facts involved in this situation were particularly
egregious. Sixty-one complaints had been filed by employees of the
six companies for unpaid wages, all of which were substantiated.
Over a period of approximately two years, 113 separate orders to
pay had been issued against the six companies and the director to
pay some $125,000.00 in unpaid wages. The six companies and the
director failed to comply with any of these orders to pay. In
addition to imposing the jail time, the Ontario Court of Justice
imposed fines of $280,000.00 plus the required 25% Victim Fine
Surcharge, for a total fine of $350,000.00. Although company
directors that are convicted of employment standards offences are
still most likely to be fined if convicted of offences under the
Act, Ministry of Labour prosecutors will certainly use this
decision as a strong deterrent against employers – and
directors – that systematically flout their obligations.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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