Radio-Canada is reporting that at least one location of Montreal-based cheap eats chain L’Gros Luxe has been skirting labour laws by requiring employees to be at the workplace early without paying them until they start their shifts.
Current affairs program La Facture spoke with Antoine Febres-Gagné, who worked as a busboy at L’Gros Luxe’s Vieux Longueuil location. Febres-Gagné, who no longer works there, told reporter Yvan Lamontagne that he would often wait one to one and a half hours on site at the restaurant before starting his shift, depending on how busy the restaurant was at the time.
When he raised the issue, a restaurant manager told him “it’s legal, it’s normal, that’s just the restaurant industry” — yet section 57.1 of Quebec’s labour code, Les Normes du Travail, states clearly that employees must be paid as long as they’re required to be in the workplace, even if they’re waiting around to be given work.
Febres-Gagné also handed over recordings of a phone conversation with a co-owner of the Longueuil location, Gérôme Paquette, who told him that the unpaid waiting time was “a type of agreement between the employee and the employer” (a Normes du Travail official, meanwhile, told Radio-Canada this was not legal). Paquette also told Febres-Gagné “La loi est faite pour être brisée” — the law was made to be broken.
Owner of the entire Gros Luxe chain Alex Bastide told Radio-Canada he was unaware that the practice was illegal, and that he would end it, and repay Febres-Gagné. While Bastide said it was a mistake on the management level, one current employee (whose identity was hidden in the piece) said managers told her that those orders had come from the highest levels of the company.
That same Gros Luxe employee also said that staff were sometimes asked to work shifts of under three hours, the minimum legal length for a shift (if a staffer is sent home before that, they must be paid for a minimum of three hours). Bastide told Radio-Canada he doubted that was an issue.
In any case, it looks like these kinds of issues aren’t isolated to L’Gros Luxe — in the eight-minute investigation, Radio-Canada spoke with several employees of other unnamed restaurants who said they had lost wages due to similar practices elsewhere.
- Des restaurants qui bafouent les normes du travail [Radio-Canada]
- Temps d’attente non payé des employés : des restaurants bafouent les normes du travail [Radio-Canada]
- Section 57.1 [CNESST]