Business accused of employment violation says did nothing wrong

Named by labour ministry in inspection blitz

The owner of a business named in violation of the Employment Standards Act by the Ministry of Labour on Jan. 20 says he doesn’t think they’re guilty.

“I actually can’t believe that they put that in the newspaper because we weren’t actually doing anything wrong,” said Alex Houshan, owner of Bowlerama in Rexdale.

The Toronto Star had released the results of the Ministry’s inspection blitz, revealing 78 per cent of workplaces across Ontario were in violation of the Employment Standards Act. Bowlerama was one of four that were mentioned as violating seven standards.

Houshan says they were paying their employees differently from how the Ministry of Labour wanted them to, but they never paid less than what their employees earned.

“Let’s say someone was making $20 an hour and they worked eight hours on a statutory holiday,” said Houshan, “We were paying them $20 an hour for 12 hours, even if they only worked eight.”

He says they immediately corrected their methods a week after they were informed of their violations.

Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn said in an email to the Observer he was pleased to be able to help vulnerable workers through their blitz strategy, but is still disappointed that employers continue to disregard the Employment Standards Act.

“Employers need to know that we will continue to use all tools available to us, and that they could be subject to compliance orders, Provincial Offences Act tickets and prosecutions for violating their employees’ rights,” Flynn said.

The organizer of the Workers’ Action Centre, Nil Sendil, says the most important solution to decrease these violations are allowing workers to file anonymous complaints.

“Often times we see that most employees who file complaints are former employees and not current ones,” said Sendil. “People are afraid that when they do make a complaint, they’ll be at the risk of losing their jobs and they often do.”

Houshan wants people to know that his company have never deducted any of their employee’s pay or taken away their rights.

“It made us seem like monsters that are trying to rip people off and that’s never ever happened at Bowlerama.”

Flynn says the Ministry will continue to proactively identify businesses that are violating the laws with their blitz strategy.