|A friend's partner's employer is refusing to let his employees work from home during the pandemic. What options do my friend and her partner have?
My friend "May"'s partner, "Cheng", works for an engineering consulting company in York Region, Ontario. The owner of the company he works for, let's call him F.I. (short for "Fucking Idiot"), let his employees work from home in March and April of 2020, but has refused to let any of his employees work from home since because he claimed they won't actually work if they do. Incidentally, F.I. is over 60 and has COPD, so he's basically suicidally pig-headed.
On January 12th, the Ontario government announced new restrictions that stipulate Ontario businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home does work from home, but F.I. is still trying to find a way to make his employees come in to the office. F.I. has said that he'll make "a decision" on Monday (January 18th), and for the rest of this week his staff have a choice to go work and get paid, or not go in and take vacation time or unpaid leave. My friend believes he's testing staff to see who shows up. Only Cheng and two other staffers are not in the office today -- everyone else is there.
For more context, F.I. is a nightmare boss in general. Some employees have quit or been fired due to his behaviour, which meant that some major projects Cheng works on went pear-shaped. F.I. blamed Cheng, reduced his hours, and docked his pay by 20%. Then, when F.I. realized he couldn't do all the work himself, he told Cheng he had to work 5 days a week again, at the reduced pay, but said there would be a quarterly review and bonus structure. Cheng never received one cent in bonus money. Cheng did speak with a lawyer about that situation, and was told it's constructive dismissal, meaning Cheng could quit and sue for severance. But that could take years, and Cheng and May would be without his income.
There was also an incident where F.I. told a female employee that she ought to smile more, she responded that his comment was inappropriate and harassment, and he fired her on the spot.
What can Cheng and May do? Cheng simply can't afford to either quit or take unpaid time off, it's unlikely he'll be able to find a new job right away given the present situation although he is looking, and it seems his co-workers are in the same boat, which makes it difficult for them to band together and stage any sort of protest effort. Is there any way to effectively report F.I. so that a legal/government authority will make him abide by the pandemic restrictions?