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5 ex-bar workers sue for wrongful termination

Five ex-employees of a bar in Ottawa say that they should be paid $17,662 in lost wages after the bar abruptly closed last summer. The bar used to be a popular spot for underground music and arts, but in July 2015, the bar's general manager sent a notice to employees saying that the establishment would be closed to the public, effective the day the notice was sent.

In the email, the bar owner said that if an employee has a bar shift the following weekend, the shift would be canceled. According to a former bartender with the company, some employees were notified just an hour before their shifts were supposed to start. The employees said that they felt like they had been left in the dark.

In defense against the wrongful termination claim, the company claims that its workers were offered alternative employment opportunities in the hostel portion of the company. The company says that workers were given until July 12 to notify managers that they were interested in continued employment.

However, the ex-workers say that they did not quit and that their rights have been violated. The labor law firm that is representing the workers sent a letter to the employer, Hostelling International-Canada to say that the workers are interested in reaching an out-of-court settlement. They have asked for a group settlement amount of $17,662 as compensation for lost tips and wages from their usual employment. However, the company has made a counter settlement offer of just $1,535 to be split among the five employees and there is no word on whether they will accept the deal.

It is not uncommon for an Alberta wrongful termination suit to settle out of court, but only if the parties are able to reach a reasonable settlement that is fair for both sides. Before accepting an offer of settlement, it is vital to discuss the offer with a qualified employment law lawyer to evaluate its fairness.

Source: Ottawa Metro, "Former Ottawa bar workers threaten to sue jail hostel," Joe Lofaro, Sep. 28, 2015

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