After hearing from multiple current and former employees of two downtown Kingston restaurants about their issues with being paid and their claims to the Ministry of Labour – and after the owner of those restaurants denied such claims – Kingstonist has confirmed that there are several active claims filed with the Ministry.
On Friday, Nov. 10, 2023, Kingstonist published the accusations of around a dozen current and former employees of Whiskey & Rosé and/or Hey Darlin’ diner, along with a response from one of the business owners, Amanda Finkle. The employees alleged that their experiences included not being paid on time, not being paid at all, being paid only to have cheques bounce, being forced to repeatedly request payment, failing to have tips paid out, and suffering a hostile work environment. Kingstonist verified that those we spoke with had previously been or are currently employed at one of the two restaurants.
Additionally, a handful of current and former employees stated that they had contacted the Ministry of Labour over their payment issues. One employee specifically said they had filed a claim with Ministry in September, but had not been assigned a caseworker yet.
Confronted with the allegations, Finkle denied the involvement of the Ministry. She said that in the one situation she has dealt with that involved the provincial agency that oversees labour relations, they contacted her on her cellphone – alleging evidence that the Ministry would certainly know how to contact her if they needed to.
Finkle claimed that she has had to deal twice with the province as the employer of multiple restaurant staff, both of which she said were regarding former employees requesting a Record or Employment (ROE) after those employees had failed to file the correct tax documents required to have an ROE issued.
However, Kingstonist has learned that, in fact, 10 claims have been filed with the Ministry in 2023 regarding employee issues at both restaurants. Specifically, eight Employment Standards claims have been filed against Whiskey & Rosé, and two have been filed against Hey Darlin’.
“An order to pay wages has been issued for one claim against Whiskey and Rosé Inc.,” the Ministry said in an email to Kingstonist.
That order, the Ministry said, was issued on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023 – two days before Kingstonist spoke with Finkle, when she had denied any such activity was occurring.
“As the other claims remain open and the Ministry’s investigations are ongoing, we are not able to share further information at this time,” said Jennifer Rushby, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.
The Ministry did, however, explain that if it is determined that wages are owed, the Ministry will “take action and make all effort to recover the wages.” Further, if an order is not paid or appealed within 30 days, that order will be referred to the Ministry of Finance for collection plus an additional 20 per cent collection fee.
For their part, the Ministry of Finance uses “progressive collection action and is authorized to use a variety of collection tools in an effort to collect the money owing under an order,” the Ministry of Labour shared. “This may include but is not limited to letters, phone calls, liens or third-party demands to banking institutions used by the former employer.”
This remains a developing story. Kingstonist will provide updated coverage as more information becomes available.