By Carys Mills
The Ryerson Student’s Union (RSU) has been ordered to pay missing termination pay to seven former workers, following a probe by the Ministry of Labour.
Representatives met with the ministry last November after complaints aobut missing termination pay and claims of reprisal were filed against the RUSU.
The claims, filed by eight former community service group workers, accused the RSU of breaking Employment Standards Act (ESA) requirements. The RSU has been ordered to pay about $1500 in termination pay according to documents obtained by the Eyeopener.
Termination pay must be given to workers in lieu of notice of the end of employment under the ESA.
Disagreements between the employees and the RSU involved if contracts ended early and if termination pay was owed.
“It’s not about the money, because the money is like nothing,” said Kiera Chion, one of the former workers.
The ministry didn’t find any other violations under the ESA.
“We made the claims and produced as much evidence as we could,” said Jesse Trautmann, a former community service group employee. He said reprisal claims taken to the Ministry of Labour are typically hard to prove.
According to the ministry documents, the RSU terminated Chion and Trautmann for willful misconduct, a reason for dismissal that cancels compensation pay.
This type of misconduct means an employee intentionally behaved in a way that justified ending their employment without compensation, according to Avner Levin, law and business professor.
“You don’t end up winning those things, statistically speaking,” said Levin.
He said it’s easier for employers to dismiss an employee, compensate them, and hire someone else.
The ministry found that Chion and Trautmann’s actions weren’t willful.
“In our view, we were not willful and it really helps to have the ESA investigator now back us up,” said Chion.
The former workers and the RSU have 30 days to appeal the decision made by the Ministry of Labour.
“We’re going through and reviewing,” said Toby Whitfield, RSU vice-president finance and services and president-elect.
“It’s hard to comment.”
“Whitfield wouldn’t say whether the RSU is considering appealing the decision made by the Ministry of Labour.
According to Trautmann and Chion, they don’t plan to appeal the ministry’s decision but they’ll have to get involved again if the RSU decides to appeal.
“I would like to just put it to rest,” said Chion.
“I don’t want to defend it any further.”