Steakhouse workers demand pay after restaurant closure
Employees of a closed New Minas steakhouse say they haven't been able to get the wages they're owed, or their records of employment, after being out of work more than a month.
3 Sons Steakhouse on Prospect Road closed down July 10, with little notice to its 18 workers.
"We were kind of given a three-day heads up, and then we ended up closing the following day with no notice whatsoever to us," said former head chef Daniel Craig.
Craig said he was aware that the finances of the business were tight, but the restaurant closed its doors so fast, some staff weren't paid.
He said staff are owed anywhere from $100 to $700, plus any vacation pay they may have earned.
None of the employees were given records of employment, and so they are unable to start EI claims.
Craig said he's found other work, as have most of the other employees. However, he said the strain of going without some income was difficult on many families.
"They don't have a large amount of funds bankrolled to be able to support their families or support their families well enough," said Craig. "Especially with back-to-school coming up as well."
Stephanie Cox, the general manager of the steakhouse, told CBC News she also did not receive her record of employment, but the paperwork is coming soon.
3 Sons unable to pay wages
She said the landlord of the building locked out the management staff, preventing them from accessing the computers where the records were kept. She said a payroll company will come in next week to print off those records.
Cox said that "every penny" the company had was paid out to employees in an attempt to cover their wages, but that 3 Sons has no funds.
On the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint stocks, Natalie Lush is listed as director and president of 3 Sons, and Timothy Hergett is listed as the recognized agent.
Hergett, a Wolfville lawyer, told CBC News that he was a passive investor in the 3 Sons business, and did not play any part in the management of the company. He said he did not have any information about employees who were missing wages or records of employment.
"Everyone involved has my sympathy, but I've lost more than anyone," Hergett said.
Hergett said he did not believe it was possible to sell the business or its assets.
That will be unwelcome news to employees like Monique Boulanger, who was a line cook and Red Seal apprentice at 3 Sons for three weeks. She said she's owed about $1,000 for that time, plus her record of employment.
"It means that I can't file for EI, it means I can't use those hours that I accumulated towards my Red Seal chef position," she said. "The communication was really poor from the get go and I think they should have paid the employees before shutting the doors."
Lynn Hartley, the director of Nova Scotia's labour standards division, said her department sees a handful of businesses every year which close while owing employees money.
Hartley said she could not comment on whether 3 Sons is being investigated by labour standards, but she said if a business closes its doors and has no money in its accounts, there is sometimes no way to recover the money owed to employees. Under Nova Scotia law, the labour standards division cannot recover personal money from the owners of an incorporated company.
"There are some circumstances where a business is judgment-proof," Hartley said. "That's heartbreaking."