Owner raffling off Danforth restaurant faces 8 labour complaints
Ruthie Cummings previously announced a raffle for her restaurant, saying she wanted to care for her ailing parents.
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
The owner of a German gastropub raffling off her Danforth Ave. restaurant is at the heart of several complaints to the Ministry of Labour and a peace bond with a former employee restricting him from contacting her.
Ruthie Cummings made headlines in the fall when she announced the contest to raffle off her three-year-old restaurant, Das Gasthaus, for $150 a ticket so she could spend more time with her aging parents. It turns out the establishment is facing eight complaints filed with the Ministry of Labour since 2013.
Former chef Maximilien Corsillo — who filed one of those complaints — has been ordered not to come within 100 metres of Das Gasthaus and Cummings for one year and to continue to attend counselling at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and with a psychiatrist.
Charges of criminal harassment against Corsillo, 37, have been withdrawn, according to court documents. Corsillo told Torstar News Service he is relieved. Corsillo’s lawyer, Wayne Cunningham, has declined to comment.
Former Das Gasthaus employees, including chefs, a bar manager and servers, filed the complaints with the Ministry of Labour about issues involving minimum wage, statutory deductions, holiday pay and being threatened or penalized in some way with their pay, according to ministry spokesperson Janet Deline.
In interviews with Torstar, Cummings said the criminal case “was really scary.” The labour complaints, which she says are par for the course when owning a restaurant, have been “quite expensive to deal with and very emotional,” she said.
“Whatever has happened, good, bad, whatever — now it’s about the business. It’s about (someone) getting a really good deal and helping people pursue their dream. The bottom line is this is a great opportunity.”
Deena Ladd, co-ordinator at the Workers Action Centre, which advocates for non-union workers, calls the number of complaints about Das Gasthaus “significant for a small restaurant.”
Cummings initially announced the contest in September. A few days later, she was back in the news when the site she chose to host the raffle said it would not host it because it did not meet their terms and conditions.
Now, with a new online host, the tickets are back on sale until Christmas Eve, Cummings says. She says she plans to draw a winner Dec. 30. Cummings says she is selling only 4,000 tickets, to bring in about $600,000. About 500 tickets have been sold to date, she says.
Cummings says the complaints and court issues began soon after she opened Das Gasthaus in 2013.
She hired Corsillo in November of that year after a chef quit, she says. But Cummings said she was quick to realize he wouldn’t work out and fired him after about a week. Corsillo, on the other hand, told Torstar he quit.
Cummings alleges that Corsillo opened a Gmail address under the restaurant’s name and sent out threatening emails. One of those emails, which Cummings sent to Torstar, came to her inbox on Nov. 25, 2013.
It read: “You have to pay your staff and you will.”
In an interview with Torstar in early fall, Corsillo said he quit because Cummings didn’t pay him on time or enough.
After leaving Das Gasthaus, he says he learned that other employees of the restaurant had similar problems getting their money from Cummings, so he started joking around, he told Torstar. One of his pranks, he says, was to clog Cummings’ voicemail.
Later that month, he left messages for Cummings of him singing “pay your staff b----h” to the tune of the song “Purple Rain,” he says. “I thought it was a big joke,” he told Torstar. “There was nothing threatening whatsoever — it was funny and embarrassing to her.”
Corsillo says he turned himself in to police shortly after he filed a complaint to the Ministry of Labour, alleging Cummings failed to pay him about $2,500. The labour matter was eventually settled for about $800, according to both Corsillo and Cummings.
Around the same time Corsillo filed his labour complaint, so did three other former Das Gasthaus employees, Deline confirmed.
Sara Kuz, a former Das Gasthaus bar manager, filed a complaint in December 2013, alleging Cummings owed her a few weeks’ salary after a final paycheque bounced and Cummings failed to give her holiday pay.
Kuz, who worked at Das Gasthaus for four months, says she left the restaurant in early November 2013 because her relationship with her boss had become strained.
Shortly after she left, two other employees stopped working there, too.
One of them, a former Das Gasthaus cook who spoke to Torstar on condition of anonymity, says she also filed a complaint to the Ministry of Labour in late 2013, alleging Cummings owed her about $2,500 in unpaid wages. The 28-year-old says she quit after Cummings told her that she had been overpaid, and owed Das Gasthaus $500. The claim was settled, she and Cummings say, around March 2014 for $800.
Cummings told Torstar there were indeed issues with how much money Kuz and others got paid, so she settled with them as quickly as possible.
More on Metronews.ca