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Gas Station Owner Hires New Immigrant, Refuses To Pay Him

Gas Station Owner Hires New Immigrant, Refuses To Pay Him

Mizanur Choudhury was delighted to find a job at a Shell gas station in Ottawa’s west end last year. He had been living in the nation’s capital for a year after arriving with his family from Bangladesh, and had been knocking on doors looking for work ever since.

When he took a job at the station this past winter, the owner, Gamal Abdelhakam, told him he would be “training” for an indeterminate period of time, and that the training period was unpaid. Choudhury happily accepted these terms. However, as weeks passed and Abdelhakam kept putting him off when he asked about pay, Choudhury began to get disheartened, then suspicious. Finally, after repeated requests and with no pay forthcoming, Choudhury stopped going to the gas station. His daughter contacted the local labour council who said that not only should Choudhury receive payment for work provided, he also should have been paid for the training time (confirmed by the Ministry of Labour).

Abdelhakam, the owner, said to the Ottawa Citizen that he was just doing Choudhury a “favor” by letting him put on a uniform and operate the cash at his gas station, that it “wasn’t even training,” that he was never alone at the cash, that he “never got the hang” of the machines. He did, however, offer to pay Choudhury for “a couple of hours” if there had been a “miscommunication.”

But Abdelhakam’s story doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. If he was doing Choudhury a “favor” and if Choudhury was, as he said, inept at using the cash register and interac machines, then why was Choudhury in charge of submitting a police report when a customer left without paying his bill? Why does video surveillance show Choudhury behind the till — alone?  And why was Choudhury wearing a Shell uniform if he was not an employee? 

Perhaps most disturbingly, is Shell Canada aware of Abdelhakam’s policies of giving out “favors” that seem to translate to unpaid and unfair labor practices? And is this practice widespread among a workplace that seems to attract plenty of new immigrants?

Questions indeed.

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8:27AM PDT on May 10, 2013

The owner needs to be fined and put in jail. This is not acceptable and that person needs to be made an example of so it never happens again.

11:53PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

Sarah, quick question..........why are you commenting on this? It's a very old discussion and the situation has long since been "handled".

10:27PM PDT on Sep 7, 2011

Wow! Really disheartening...

3:24AM PDT on Jul 22, 2011

Haven't used Shell since the Apartheid days. I have a loooong memory and knows that if someone cheats one way, they will cheat everywhere else too.

12:40PM PDT on Jun 22, 2011

All I can add is - disgusting. Welcome to America.

10:01PM PDT on Jun 14, 2011

How can one live by cheating on fellow humans beings?

11:44PM PDT on May 23, 2011

Patrick, I got the same reponse ...........via "e-mail" from someone named Lorraine somebody. She's probably out looking for a new job, LOL!

6:23PM PDT on May 23, 2011

signed the petition and ,big surprise, received an "out of office" reply by ,not one but, TWO of Shell Canada's agents

10:16AM PDT on May 22, 2011

This worker should get his pay and interest at the same rate banks charge for loans and the owner and Shell Canada fined for illegal labour practices. The government should also be investigating not only this station but all Shell stations as Shell Canada was aware of this practice and did nothing.

10:57PM PDT on May 21, 2011

Audrey, did it occur to you that it was a stupid poll in the first place? How would we know which station it was, and few people who are driving down the road & need gas spend the time to research the employment practices at various stations. Of course, if this was my LOCAL station & I knew the manager as being such a jerk, YES, I'd take my business elsewhere.

You think this guy deserves TRIPLE what anyone else should have been paid? Wow. Of course he deserves what he earned, and maybe a fine on top of that, but hardly TRIPLE. If that happened & the word got out, can you imagine the rise in instances of people offering to work for nothing to get hired & then claim they never did, and want TRIPLE pay?

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