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 rare.
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.
See the Ontario Ministry of Labour press release – http://news.ontario.ca/mol/en/2012/11/director-jailed-and-companies-fined-after-failing-to-pay-employees.html