Ex-restaurant owners jailed and fined for owed wages of ex-employees

Community News & Features Aug 10, 2018 at 3:48 pm

Ontario Ministry of Labour

The Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic welcomes the decision of Justice of Peace Karen Walker to impose a fine of $900,000 on Yuk Yee Ellen Pun and her companies behind the Regal Restaurant Chain for failing to comply with the Ministry of Labour’s Orders to pay their former employees owed wages.  

In June, 2015, the Ministry of Labour found Ellen Pun and the corporations she controlled in breach of the Employment Standards Act by failing to pay their 60 or so employees owed wages (including minimum wage, overtime pay, vacation pays, public holiday pays, termination and severance pays to the tune of $676,000.00.)   The Ministry issued an order to pay in the amount of $457,443.00 (plus administration fee).

Since then, Ellen Pun and her companies had only made a partial payment to their former employees.  On July 31, 2018, Justice of Peace Karen Walker of the Newmarket Court found them guilty of contravening the ESA, and issued a total fine of $900,000 ($75,000 per defendant).  In addition, the J.P. sentenced Ellen Pun to 90 days of custodial sentence.

“It is one of the few cases where the Court has imposed a jail sentence on a director of a company for failing to comply with the Employment Standard Act.  This sentence shows the seriousness of the breach committed by Ellen Pun and her companies.  It sends a strong message to other employers that they must respect the rights of their employees under the law,” said Avvy Go, Clinic Director, Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (CSALC).

Since late 2013, CSALC has been representing the 60 or so former employees of Regal to seek repayment of what is rightfully theirs – their hard earned money.  The decision of the court will not change the fact that many employees are still waiting to recover their owed wages.    CSALC calls on the new Provincial Government to strengthen the enforcement of the ESA, and to reinstate the decision made by the former Ontario Government to hire 175 more inspectors for the Ministry of Labour.