How an employer can withhold some of your pay

In the aftermath of the recent tragic “gas and dash” death of a Toronto gas station attendant, the Ontario of Ministry of Labour has highlighted the rules under the Ontario Employment Standards Act. Go to this link  for more information. According to this link, there are only three types of deductions that can be withheld from your wages. This is all very informative but…

Back in October 2007, I free-lanced as a stagehand at Showtech Power & Lighting. The crew set up the event which was an Al Gore event, where Sheryl Crowe and others performed in concert at the MTTC. Usually, at the time of the load out, the crew returned at the end of the event, all to prepare for a tear down. I, however, was not familiar with the rules for event employees.

I arrived one and a half hours earlier then the bosses asked for. I watched the performance, got restless, and went to a booth that supplied complimentary pizza and refreshments, including alcoholic beverages. Less than an hour later, several security guards approached me. One spoke to me and the others eyed me with suspicion. "Who are you?!" demanded the most senior one of them. I explained them my situation as a freelancer.  "Where are your co-workers that you claim to have with you?!"

I looked around, seeing no one. "None of them are here yet?" I looked around again. "They should be here soon."

"But they’re not," exclaimed one of them, getting brave, interrupting the other.

"By the way," continued the man in charge, "we have been watching you for some time. The pizza you ate and drinks you consumed are reserved for paying guests only. They paid big money to be here, buster!"

They then surrounded me like I was a prisoner. "Those guests paid to be here. Thus the food you had… you stole." They then threatened to have me placed in a cop cruiser taken to Cherry Street where I would receive a beating. I was shocked and dismayed with that aggressive attitude. They took me to the back area, continuing their threats. I tried to explain them my lack of knowledge for event policy, but they still pursued to threaten me with violence. These were not police but MTTC security guards, not Toronto's finest.

When the event ended, the head of MTTC security arrived and faced me. He introduced himself as Cisus Tomorrow. He came across more as a bouncer at a local strip bar, not the head of security for the MTTC.  All and all, I was told I was an intruder, a security risk, and was banned from the building. When I departed from the scene, met my bosses from Showteck, who then learned my situation. It was only then that I was told about Showtech policy to withhold wages if an employee had been banned from the building. Thus, I was ordered to leave the MTTC. "Get a lawyer, I don't care," they said, going about their work. I was not paid for three days of backbreaking work. What if five years has gone by and you still have not been paid. The answer is very simple. You join the raging masses of online journalism.

Paul Collins, author of Mack Dunstan’s Inferno / Mystery of Everyman’s Way

Contact him on!/authorpaulcollins


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