After years of delay, a labour relations case involving the Kashruth Council of Canada (COR) and its mashgichim, or kosher food supervisors, is finally coming to an end.
On Thursday, a lawyer representing the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s director of employment standards, presented Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) Vice-Chair Brian McLean with an agreed statement of facts about several former Kashruth Council employees. The agreed facts were negotiated only the day before and obviated the need to call witnesses in the case, said Grainne McGrath, counsel for the director.
The director had planned to call three or four people to testify and the Kashruth Council had its own witnesses ready, she said.
The hearing was adjourned until June 15, when lawyers for the Kashruth Council and the director will present legal arguments based on the agreed facts.
The case will determine whether the compensation COR was paying its mashgichim was in line with the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA).
The case arose out of a November 2013 inspection by a Ministry of Labour employment standards officer (ESO) and a March 2014 ministry compliance order, relating to the number of hours the mashgichim worked and their overtime pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, as well as the records kept by the Kashruth Council. The ESO found that the Kashruth Council did not pay its mashgichim overtime, as required by the ESA.
The Kashruth Council has also argued that it compensates its mashgichim beyond statutory requirements and offers greater flexibility in work hours than is required by law.
A statement on the organization’s website says: “All of COR’s mashgichim get paid for their overtime work. COR is committed to compliance with Employment Standards Act of Ontario. Furthermore COR is fully committed to compliance with all government policies and regulations (federal, provincial and municipal).”
Nevertheless, the Kashruth Council has been involved in labour proceedings involving its employees before. In 2012, an ESO found that the Kashruth Council owed 58 employees more than $10,000 in overtime, vacation pay and other wages. The Kashruth Council settled with all the employees, except three.
McGrath declined to comment on the current case, or reveal the agreed facts, but she suggested the vice-chair’s decision likely won’t be delivered on the 15th.
“Because it’s a complex case, I expect the vice-chair will reserve a decision,” she said.
“I’m pleased that it’s progressing and that we are going to bring it to a conclusion in the time that is allotted,” she added.
Richard Rabkin, managing director of the Kashruth Council, said COR is pleased the case is coming to a resolution. “We will make a comment at the conclusion,” he said.