01/17/2014 11:04 EST | Updated 03/19/2014 05:59 EDT

Employees protest being made to cover shortages at the till

An employee of a Pointe-Claire pet store is alleging that she and fellow employees were made to pay out of their own pockets to cover money missing from the till.

The employee, who asked to remain anonymous, provided a photo of a sign left in the staff room at Nature pet store that gave the store’s cashiers one week to replace the money.

“You obviously know who’s [sic] fault it is so replace it! It’s your responsibility as a cashier you know that and the fact that nobody told me makes me even more unhappy… 1 week I want all the money back!!!,” the note read.

The employee told Mike Finnerty, host of CBC’s Daybreak, that the note was posted after three cash registers were short a “fair amount” of money.

“It was more threatening than anything,” she said of the note.

She said she and other employees covered the amount that was missing because they were afraid of losing their jobs.

“It felt pretty awful, it didn’t feel fair, whether it was legal or not, at the time I didn’t know,” she said.

In fact, it’s not legal at all, says labour lawyer Patrice Blais. Article 49 of the Labour Standards Act makes clear that the only deductions that an employer can take from an employee’s pay are those authorized by law like Employment Insurance, pension contributions and deductions permitted under collective agreements.

Blais said an employer’s recourse in such circumstances is to launch an investigation and take disciplinary action if an employee is found to be taking from the till.

Blais said employees faced with an employer demanding repayment should file a complaint.

Peter Kovcic, the Operations Manager for Nature, conceded that a note may have been posted asking employees to pay back the money but no manager has taken responsibility for it.

He told CBC News the note goes against Nature’s policy of not asking employees to reimburse shortfalls from their tills.

“If a manager does that, and we are not aware of it and it comes to our attention, then there would be disciplinary action,” Kovcic said.

He said Nature’s policy for dealing with money missing from cash registers is to talk to its cashiers to determine what happened.

“If it happens repeatedly, then action will be taken, but not by repaying the money,” Kovcic said.

The Nature employee told CBC News that the note was no way to treat employees.

"Bullying is not acceptable, bullying in the workplace is not acceptable," she said.