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Kamloops brewpub ordered to pay $10,000 for unpaid wages

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Alchemy Brewing

A Kamloops brewpub has lost an appeal after it refused to pay a former chef $10,000 in unpaid wages.

According to a March 15 Employment Standards Tribunal decision, Alchemy Brewing failed to pay former chef Michael Swann $9,804 when he quit his job in April 2021.

Swann ended up taking the brewpub to an employment tribunal arguing Alchemy owed him final wages and vacation pay, along with a 2% share in food sales as per his contract.

The two parties resolved the issue of final wages and vacation pay but Alchemy denied it owed Swann a 2% share in the food sales.

The brewpub then launched an appeal arguing the tribunal had misinterpreted Swann's contract.

The decision says Swann worked at the popular Kamloops brewpub from 2018 to 2021.

Swann argued his contract stated he would receive 2% of food sales.

"Alchemy did not dispute Mr. Swann was entitled to receive 2% of food sales but took the position that term was intended to represent his share of pooled gratuities, and he had received that amount," the decision reads.

Swann argued the contract paid 2% of food sales independent of gratuities.

The former chef points out that in December 2019 he was paid the promised 2% of food sales.

In its appeal, Alchemy argued that the original tribunal had made errors by assessing the wrong legal principle and by assuming that the 2% of food sales in 2019 was confirmation of his entitlement to that compensation.

Alchemy argued it was the "industry standard" that kitchen staff received a percentage of front-of-house tips.

The brewpub said the reference to the 2% set out in Swann's contract was "nothing more" than confirmation that he'd get his share of the tips.

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However, the appeal Tribunal didn't buy it.

"I reiterate at this point... that there was no mention of a share of gratuities in the job offer or in any other contemporaneous documents," the Tribunal ruled.

The Tribunal went on to say that if Alchemy only meant to pay the chef a percentage of the tips "it could have, and should have, been made clear."

Ultimately, the Tribunal rules Swann was entitled to 2% of the food sales and ordered Alchemy Brewing to pay him $9,804.

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The brewpub is also on the hook for a $500 administrative penalty from the Employment Standards Tribunal.

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