Montreal sports bar and strip club magnate Peter Sergakis has been told by the government that he needs to provide protective shoes for kitchen workers in one of his bars, and he’s not happy about it.
According to Le Journal de Montréal, Quebec’s provincial labour authority, CNESST, inspected the newly opened NDG location of Brasserie Le Manoir, one of many Sergakis-owned bars in the city. The CNESST inspector mandated that staff working with knives at the St-Jacques Street bar should be supplied with protective shoes for work.
Sergakis was so upset with this that he went to Le Journal to vent, saying that in 58 years in the business, he had never seen a cook hurt themselves by dropping a knife on their foot, calling the inspector “overzealous”. He also told the Journal that no such danger exists, saying that knives always land on their hilts, since those are heavier than the blade. (Sergakis did not mention other possible purposes for those boots — for example, that they could protect a worker’s foot if a heavy object is dropped on it.) As a further objection to the labour board, Sergakis said that supplying protective footwear would be too costly.
Sergakis also went on TVA to talk about the issue, claiming that staff in his restaurants don’t want to wear protective footwear, because they are hot and uncomfortable in a kitchen setting.
While Sergakis says CNESST is requiring him to supply steel-toed shoes for employees, it’s unclear whether the labour board is specifically demanding steel-toed shoes or some other protective footwear. Generally speaking, kitchen staff do wear some form of protective footwear, such as non-slip shoes, although without necessarily going all the way up to steel-toed boots.
CNESST declined to comment on this specific case as it’s before a tribunal, but a representative for the agency noted that such demands for an employer to provide protective footwear to kitchen staff have been made numerous times, over a number of years. The representative added that such requirements are imposed on a case-by-case basis by inspectors, and can depend on the types of equipment used in a kitchen, and the tasks assigned to workers.
Quebec’s restaurant association gave a similar response to Le Journal, also stating that while steel-capped boots are not usually mandated by CNESST, it’s not unheard of.
CNESST does not list specific types of footwear as mandatory for kitchen staff or other restaurant workers, although it does have a clear general requirement for employers to provide “protective gear you need to work safely”, which may include boots.
Sergakis says he plans to fully contest the CNESST requirement.
- Working conditions that let you do your job safely [CNESST]
- Un restaurateur conteste le port de chaussures de sécurité [Le Journal de Montréal]