Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic

August 04, 2015 13:00 ET

Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic: Restaurant Owners Liable for over $600,000 in Unpaid Wages and Statutory Pays

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Aug. 4, 2015) - After more than a year of investigation, the Ontario Ministry of Labour found the former directors of Regal Restaurants liable to its former employees for a total amount of $676,693.79 in unpaid wages, overtime pay, minimum wage pay, termination pay, public holiday pay and vacation pay.

From mid to late 2013, Ellen Pun, the owner of the Regal Restaurant chain, closed down all four restaurants in the GTA. Over 60 employees lost their jobs without receiving any termination pay, and most were owed weeks, if not months, of unpaid wages.

The Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (MTCSALC) assisted many former Regal Restaurant employees in filing and advancing their claims with the Ministry of Labour (MOL) against their employer. MTCSALC also assisted in the MOL investigation process by providing information regarding other related companies owned by Ellen Pun and her partner, Patsy Lai. A total of 68 individuals filed claims with MOL; the majority of whom were represented by MTCSALC.

After a year long investigation, MOL finally issued an order to Ms. Pun, Ms. Lai, and 19 of the companies they own to pay back some of the monies owed to their former employees. Under the provisions of the Employment Standards Act (ESA) which were in place at the time of the case, the MOL could only order the employer to pay up to a maximum amount of $10,000.00 per claim. A number of the employees are owed more than $10,000.00. Prior to issuing the order, the Ministry had asked the employer to voluntarily comply by paying the employees in full, but the employer never responded to the Ministry's letter.

"We would like to commend the MOL investigators who have done an outstanding job in sorting through all the documents and the convoluted corporate web in order to determine the liability of the directors and all the corporate entities in this case. Sadly, as the restaurants have been shut down and both Pun and Lai have filed for personal bankruptcy, these workers may never receive a penny of what they are owed," said Avvy Go, Clinic Director of MTCSALC.

"This case highlights the importance of having an effective and proactive enforcement mechanism to protect the rights of vulnerable workers in this province. We call on the Ministry of Labour to initiate prosecution under the Employment Standards Act against Ellen Pun and Patsy Lai for their egregious violations of the law," added Go.

MTCSALC has also written to the Ontario Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade and the Federal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to investigate Ellen Pun's immigration consulting business. Several former clients of Ms. Pun's immigration consulting business have approached Toronto Police Services and York Regional Police for help, claiming that they had paid Ms. Pun hundreds of thousands of dollars for services that were never rendered. To date, no investigation has been launched by any government or police department into these complaints.

The former employees of Regal Restaurants and former immigration clients of Ms. Pun deserve justice. However, they will not get it until immediate actions are taken by the Government to hold Ellen Pun and Patsy Lai accountable for their egregious actions.

For a detailed summary of the MOL findings, go to: http://mtcsalc.org/en/what-s-new/.

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