In R. v. Blondin, Steven Blondin, the owner and sole director of 6 corporations (“Mr. Blondin”) was sentenced to 3 months in prison and ordered to pay fines totalling $280,000.00 due to a failure to comply with 112 Orders to Pay issued by the Ministry of Labour. The Orders to Pay were issued due to the employer’s failure to pay wages to 61 employees in breach of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”). These sentences were made in addition to the requirement that Mr. Blondin and his corporations pay $142,000.00 in unpaid wages to the 61 employees who filed claims to the Ministry of Labour.
Section 132 of the ESA provides penalties to both corporations and individuals for failure to comply with an Order, Direction or other requirements of the ESA. For individuals, a fine of up to $50,000.00 may be imposed or imprisonment for up to 12 months or both. For corporations, a fine of up to $100,000.00 may be imposed as long as there are no previous convictions. If there is a previous conviction, then the amount of the fine can be as high as $250,000.00; more than one previous conviction can result in fines being as high as $500,000.00.
In this case, Justice Burbrin felt that the sentence of imprisonment coupled with payment of the fines were proportionate to the seriousness and gravity of the offences committed by the Employer as non-payment of wages caused significant hardship to the 61 employees.
Impact of Decision on Employers
This case demonstrates the importance of complying with the ESA as violations of the ESA can result in severe penalties for both corporate employers and directors of the companies, including significant fines and even imprisonment. If an employer is concerned that they may be violating any of the provisions of the ESA, it is imperative to consult with experienced Employment Law lawyers as soon as possible to ensure than any violation is immediately remedied to avoid the sanctions that may be imposed by the Ministry of Labour.
Impact of Decision on Employees
The ESA along with other employment related legislation and common law principles are created to ensure that all employees are provided with certain protections in the workplace. If an employer is failing to comply with any of the provisions of the ESA or other legislation, remedies may be available for the employee through the Ministry of Labour or the Courts. Employees should be aware of their rights and entitlements and should consult with an Employment Law lawyer if they feel that their rights may have been violated so that the appropriate remedy can be pursued in a timely manner.
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