Ex-employees allege Island contractor owes them thousands in unpaid wages


The employees of a Vancouver Island contractor who allegedly took deposits without finishing renovation work also allege they’re owed thousands in unpaid wages.

Two former employees of Terry Driedger, owner of Blackthorn Timberframe, have come forward claiming they are owed thousands in unpaid wages, overtime and vacation.

This comes shortly after CHEK News reported that Driedger allegedly took tens of thousands of dollars from at least six clients without finishing renovation work.

Jeff Wallis, who worked for Driedger for a little over one year starting in 2021, says he noticed several red flags towards the end of his employment.

“We had a number of jobs that we’d started that we didn’t. We kept not going back. It’d be like a month or two before I’d hear anything of whether we’re going to plan on going back to this job or that job,” said Wallis.

He says he only recalls finishing one of at least five jobs during his employment.

For the most part, Wallis says he got his paycheque on time.

But in 2022, Wallis filed with the Employment Standards Branch (ESB) after he claimed Driedger fired him for not wanting to work a weekend shift, adding that he had already worked 50 hours that week. He also says that Driedger didn’t give him his final paycheque.

“He gave me the ultimatum, his words still ring in my head. He said, ‘You can either work Saturday, or you can be fired. I’ll give you five minutes to talk to whoever you need to, but come back and give me an answer to that,'” said Wallis.

When he began working with Driedger, he was informed by his employer that he was a sub-contractor but was still being paid his hourly wage. An ESB investigation found that, given the employee-employer relationship, he should have been classified as an employee.

The ESB determined last month that Wallis was owed unpaid wages, overtime and vacation pay to the tune of $12,235.75.

Previous employee issues

Posted court documents show the ESB determined Driedger also owed two other former employees thousands in unpaid wages, overtime and vacation.

In Oct. 2022, Driedger was ordered to pay Colin Featherson $8,047.13 and Dino Busseto $3,192.04.

“He just kept delaying, not paying, then after a month, I just gave up,” said Busseto.

In an interview with CHEK News, Busseto says since the determination, he’s only received $113.

According to the Ministry of Labour, Driedger owes $31,976.92 in unpaid wages and administrative penalties. To date, they say he’s only paid about $400.

“When these outstanding amounts were not paid, the matter was assigned to the Branch’s Collections team to take enforcement action under the Employment Standards Act,” said the ministry.

“The judgement remains valid for 10 years, and should assets be discovered during that time, the Employment Standards Branch will make efforts to collect.”

CHEK News contacted Driedger by phone, asking about the unpaid allegations. He denied them, adding that he has filed an appeal in Wallis’ case. Email correspondence shows the appeal was filed Tuesday, seven days after the original appeal deadline.

“The appeal period for Mr. Driedger’s Jan. 12, 2024 decision expired on Feb. 20, 2024. No appeal has been received on the earlier two determinations,” said the ministry.

CHEK News also asked for an update on previous clients that Driedger said he’d pay back deposits or finish work for. Earlier in February, Driedger contacted two previous clients.

On Feb. 28, he contacted  Carol Dirom again, asking to complete the renovation work.

Wallis says he feels remorse for not being able to complete jobs and hopes that his former employer will pay back the money that is owed to many.

“I apologize for my part in that conduct,” said Wallis.

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