Kensington Market bakery employees in battle over alleged unpaid wages

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WATCH ABOVE: Several former employees of a popular Kensington Market bakery allege the owner failed to pay them. Cindy Pom reports – Jan 27, 2016

TORONTO — Customers at My Market Bakery may appreciate the free coffee but several former employees say they don’t appreciate working for free, according to their claims.

“I don’t think [the owner] should be able to get away with it,” said Milo Jones, who began working at the Kensington Market shop in June when it was under different ownership.

He said there were no problems getting paid back then, admitting it was under the table, but claims the trouble began when the new owner, Gary Rogers, took over the shop in October.

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“Gary came in and he said he was going to be closing the bakery,” he said.

“He came up with this elaborate plan so that he could get rid of me without any repercussions to himself.”

After learning that the shop located at 184 Baldwin Street remained open, he alleges Rogers fired him for showing up late and claims he is owed $2,000 for three weeks’ worth of work.

Jones isn’t the only former employee who is accusing the owner of unpaid wages.

“To just get steamrolled like that was really disheartening,” said Oliver Buck, adding that he worked at the bakery for six days in November before quitting due to lack of professionalism from his boss.

“[Rogers] said that I hadn’t given him two weeks’ notice so that was grounds to never pay me,” Buck said, which one legal expert points out is illegal.

READ MORE: Former employee grills owner of popular Toronto grilled cheese joint

“It is a breach of the Employment Standards Act to not pay an employee his or her wages just because they failed to provide adequate notice of resignation,” explained Soma Ray-Ellis, Chair of the Employment Group at Himelfarb Proszanski LLP.

Three other employees have made similar allegations that they were not paid by Rogers, but don’t want to be named publicly.

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One of the unnamed employees showed Global News a series of text messages they exchanged with Rogers, where he allegedly refused to pay the employee by explaining that they damaged a key at his business, called other staff to quit, and worked at a competitors’ shop at the same time.

When Global News reached out to Rogers, he denied not paying the employees and alleged it was the previous owner who failed to pay staff.

Rogers showed Global News a letter dated September 2015 that the previous owner allegedly wrote to staff in which the then-owner voiced his displeasure at the work performance of the employees.

One sentence of the letter read “if you are planning to take 100% of your salary, you are responsible for helping to complete 100% of the tasks.”

None of the employees said that the former owner owed them any wages.

READ MORE: Popular grilled cheese spot closes after Global News story

In fact, Buck said that he had “never interacted with the former owner” because he worked at the shop in November, after the former owner had left.

Buck has since filed a workplace complaint with the Ministry of Labour, which confirmed it is investigating a complaint.

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In a new twist, Global News has learned new information about the status of the shop.

“My Market Bakery does not currently have a valid licence,” said Tammy Robinson, spokeswoman for the Municipal Licensing and Standards Division at the City of Toronto.

According to the city, a licence for the shop was issued on Oct. 24, 2014 and expired a year later.

An application for a new licence was submitted on Oct. 27, 2015 but has not yet been approved.

The city said its enforcement officers are investigating why the business remains open.

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