Another deadbeat employer has been sentenced to 90 days in jail by an Ontario Court for stealing his employee’s wages, according to a witness who was in the court room. There are no written reasons yet. The MOL will probably post a notice soon.
This time it is a guy named Peter Check, who hired students to work as lifeguards during summer school breaks, and then didn’t pay them. Here is a Toronto Star piece from 2010 describing the offences. After each season, Check would disband the company and disappear or claim bankruptcy for the company. Next season, he would open up a new business under a different name and rip off a new batch of employees all over again. The Ministry of Labour tried to place writs on Check’s property, but most of the property, including his house, were placed in his wife’s name. In total, he owed nearly $70,000 in unpaid wages.
In Court yesterday, the judge sentenced Check to 90 days in jail, plus ordered him to pay the wages owing, and a $15,000 fine, according to someone who was in the courtroom at the time the sentence was read into the record. I will post the MOL notice, and written decision once they are available.
I’ve written before about how the power exists to imprison wage stealing employers, yet that power isn’t used very often. Here is a decision in regards to another wage thief, Steven Blondin, who last year was also sentenced to a 90 day jail term. The key there was that, despite many opportunities to comply with the order of restitution (to pay the employees the amounts owed), the defendant had failed to do so. People only get jailed for ESA offences when they demonstrate that they do not accept responsibility and they make no effort to comply with orders to pay.
The power to jail ESA violators in Section 132 of the Employment Standards Act. Maybe we are witnessing a movement towards a greater willingness to use this power? I’ve said before that legislation should prohibit people who have been convicted under the ESA should be denied the right to register a business or create a corporation or act as a principle of a business.
Issue for Discussion
Do you agree with imprisoning ESA violators? Is this too harsh?
What other tools should exist to discourage and punish repeat wage thieves?