Monday, May 30, 2011

Government pledges to help workers cheated by employers

Workers who have been victims of “wage theft” and other workplace mistreatment must not be afraid to come forward, Ontario Labour Minister Charles Sousa said Monday.

“I say this to those that are feeling intimidated: Call the ministry,” Sousa said in response to a report about two nannies who together are owed more than $200,000 in unpaid wages, overtime and holiday pay from their employers.

“We will react and we will ensure that their issues are covered and do everything in our power to protect them,” Sousa said.

Read the full story in the Toronto Star

Caregiver sues former employer, claiming $162,000 in lost wages

At 21, Lilliane Namukasa left Uganda to make a new life in Canada as a live-in caregiver for two small children.

But after working full-time for two years, she was paid just $2,100 by her Brampton employer and then fired without cause, forcing her into a homeless shelter, Namukasa says in a claim filed in Ontario Superior Court.

This is despite an employment contract that entitled Namukasa to receive approximately $22,000 a year, before taxes, minus $2,860 for room and board, she says in the claim.

Namukasa is seeking $162,000 for breach of contract and unpaid wages, statutory holiday pay and vacation pay. She is further claiming $33,000 for wrongful dismissal.

The allegations have not been proved in court.

The Workers’ Action Centre, a non-profit worker-based organization, says the case is one more example of wage theft faced by Ontario’s most vulnerable workers.

The centre, which is holding a Queen’s Park news conference Monday, is highlighting Namukasa’s plight and that of another live-in caregiver, as part of its campaign to beef up the province’s outdated Employment Standards Act.

“Workers should not be forced to take court action to recover unpaid wages, overtime and other employment standards entitlements,” says the centre’s coordinator Deena Ladd.

Read the article in the Toronto Star
Go to the Workers' Action Centre

Friday, May 13, 2011

Workers’ Action Centre Launches “Stop Wage Theft” Campaign

On Friday May 13th, 2011, the Workers’ Action Centre, worker-based organization committed to improving the lives and working conditions of people working in low-wage and unstable employment, will be launching its provincial “Stop Wage Theft” Campaign.

The campaign is directed at pressuring the government to protect workers by prohibiting employers from “stealing” wages through non-payment of regular or overtime wages, from charging fees for job training and from characterizing employees as “independent contractors” or “self employed” when, in fact, workers are employees of the particular employer!

Indeed, many companies, especially in the construction, cleaning and door-to-door sales industries, will falsely describe employees as “independent contractors” in order to deprive them of the many protections owed under Canadian labour legislation including minimum wage, overtime and Employment Insurance

This initiative by the Workers’ Action Centre is consistent with similar campaigns launched in the United States, where many states have, in response to public and political pressure to crack down on “bad employers”, enacted Wage Theft laws.

The Stop Wage Theft Campaign Calls on the Provincial Government to…
  • Make all employers follow the law in all workplaces
  • Update labour laws to protect all workers
  • Increase the minimum wage to bring workers out of poverty
  • Ensure equal status and protection for all workers regardless of immigration status
  • Fix Employment Insurance
You can get more information on the Workers’ Action Centre, obtain employment information - including free pamphlets outlining your workplace rights - and join the Stop Wage Theft Campaign.

If you wish to report an instance of “Wage Theft” in your workplace, call the WAC hotline at (416) 531-0778.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How what you do outside the office can get you fired

How you behave when you’re not at work has an impact, especially in these days of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. And while your behaviour may not be as questionable as the Quebec teacher who was dismissed after it was discovered she moonlighted as a porn star, conduct outside the office can have negative results.

Employees who believe that their conduct away from the office is immune from discipline are mistaken, says workplace lawyer Daniel Lublin. “Behaviour unrelated to the workplace but which nonetheless injures an employer’s interests can amount to cause for dismissal,” he says.

Read more on the Toronto Star