Louis Brandeis is famous (among other reasons) for writing that ‘Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant” in a 1913 article in Harpers. Earlier, he had written that, “If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects.”
Brandeis argued through his lifetime that exposing bad deeds would help deter them, and he he argued that the public and the media played a significant role in helping to disseminate deviant behaviour. That was long before the internet and social media. Transparency of information would also harness public opinion in the shaping of public policies. Much of Brandeis’ attention was on government transparency, but his ideas on transparency later influenced regulation of private business, especially the early securities regulation requiring large amounts of information disclosure. His ideas still resonate in public policy, ranging from environmental disclosure laws, to executive and public sector salary disclosure laws.
Brandeis influenced MacKenzie King as well, who in developing Canada’s labour law model included mandatory transparency of bargaining positions as a precondition for a legal strike or lockout, believing that public opinion would come down hard on ‘unreasonable’ positions thereby forcing a settlement.
Ontario’s Liberal government draw on Brandeis’ thinking when they began publishing a bad employer sunshine list a couple of years ago. These are employers who have been so recalcitrant in refusing to comply with basic employment standards that the state has needed to pursue prosecution in the criminal courts. I have been doing my Brandeis duty in helping to promote these Bad Employers in the hope that shaming them will cause a change in behaviour and encourage other employers to pay closer attention to employment laws. Pass along the word, and consider whether you want to do business with a Bad Employer.
The MOL’s Bad Employer Sunshine List
Sadly, there’s a new batch of employers on the MOL’s shame list, this time for the months of January, February, and March 2012. For employers that do not want to find themselves on this list, learn the laws and comply with that. If you don’t understand the rules, talk to an employment lawyer, or spend some time reading the very helpful materials available on the Ministry of Labour’s website.These materials will also help inform employees of their legal rights.
Sample Lowlights of the Newest Batch of Bad Employers
Remember that hardly any current employees file ESA complaints. Almost all ESA complaints are filed by ex-employees, so the number of ESA complaints actually filed represents only a small percentage of actual ESA violations occurring at any time. And remember also that to make onto to this list, the employer has been informed that they are breaking the law, and yet they did not voluntarily pay up or settle the matter. Any employer can make a mistake, but decent employers would quickly apologize and make the employee whole.
As usual, many of these bad employers are in the fast food, restaurant, and service sector where wages are low and unions non-existent.
Premier Fitness, Brampton (failure to pay wages)
DRT Enterprises, Barrie (failure to comply with an order to pay, assessed a $6,250 fine)
Shoeless Joes, Niagara (wages)
The Silver Dollar Blue Room, Toronto (wages, holiday pay)
Prohibition Gastro Pub & Oyster Bar, Toronto (overtime)
Dunn’s Famous Deli, Ottawa, (overtime)
Copa Cabana Steakhouse, Niagara (overtime)
Lion of Stouffville (overtime)
The Old Nick, Toronto (wages, holiday pay)
Origin Restaurant, Toronto (wages, holiday pay)
Trade Secrets, Newmarket (overtime)
Prescott Hotel, Ottawa (overtime)
Swan Restaurant, Toronto (holiday)
Urban Planet, SSM (overtime)
Stanley’s Fish and Chips, Oshawa (holiday, vacation pay)
Sambuca’s on Church, Toronto (overtime)
Union Restaurant, Toronto (public holiday)
The Glue Pot Pub, Oshawa (wages, holiday)
Subway, Brampton (minimum wage)
Royal Classic Kitchen, Newmarket (minimum wage)
Taps and Tales, Toronto (holiday)
Citrine Restaurant, Windsor (holiday)
Ein-Stein Cafe & Pub, Ottawa (holiday)
Melanie’s Bistro, Toronto (holiday)
In Touch Retirement Living for Vegans, Toronto (minimum wage)
Fox & Fiddle, Toronto (wages, holiday pay)
Kally’s Restaurant, Toronto (overtime pay)
IDA Pharmacy, Barrie (hours of work)
Goodlife Fitness, SSM (overtime pay)
Benjamin Moore, Newmarket (records, vacation pay)
Crews & Tango Restaurant, Toronto (wages, holiday pay)
St. Louis Bar & Grill, Toronto (wages, holiday pay)
Phew. And that is just a sample of Bad Employers listed for the period. Take up Brandeis’ torch, and pass along word to your friends of the Bad Employer Sunshine list.