K.J. reached out to the Retail Action Network shortly after an incident that occurred at Swans Brewpub. K.J. let us know that she had been intimidated and bullied by a couple of the managers; we decided to help her out.

Help K.J. get an apology from the Swans Brewpub management, and to introduce policy against harassment and intimidation. Swans is owned by the University of Victoria.

Please read the details here, as written by K.J.:


My name is K.J. and I am a server at Swans Brewpub. I have been an employee at this restaurant since January 2016. I am writing you this letter as a formal complaint towards Mike Boyle, general manager, and Jason McMillan, food and beverage director, both of whom have deliberately humiliated and intimidated me in the workplace.

The incident of Mike and Jason bullying me happened on the afternoon of Wednesday June 8th, 2016. I was serving a promotional function and the gratuity was waived from the bill. In private, away from any customers, I asked Jason if I was being paid the liquor server minimum wage of $9.20/hour, since I wouldn’t be getting any tips during that whole shift. Mike joined the conversation and they plainly told me that my wage is fixed at $9.20/hour.

That conversation left me feeling upset and unsatisfied because the restaurant was waiving gratuity from the only party that I would be serving that day and paying me below poverty wages, without leaving room for negotiation. Swans has an “open door policy”, which was clearly stated in the forms that I signed when I began my employment. With this in mind, I exercised my right as a Swans employee to seek out support from Pam from Human Resources that same day. This is what upset Mike and prompted him to intimidate me with Jason.

About an hour after I spoke with Pam, Jason called myself and two other servers, who had no relation to the function, into the staff quarters for a meeting. Jason stood by Mike’s side silently as Mike tried to make an example of me in front of my colleagues. Mike used very inappropriate and violent language from the beginning of the meeting and said these exact words:

“Did anyone put a gun to your head when you applied to work here? Did anyone put a gun to your head when you signed the documents to work here? No one is putting a gun to your head to be here.”

I was shocked by his unprofessional and violent choice of words. Mike proceeded with a more classist approach by giving us each a print out of the Swans Brewpub and Hotel Organizational Chart and said:

“I chose to have an education and to be where I am. You chose to be where you are.”

I felt as though Mike was trying to demean me and all servers and employees “under” him. Mike made it very clear that he was upset with me. He looked at me intensely and articulated,

“I’ll have you know that this is my most angry-calm voice you will see me use.”

I felt as though he was yelling at me without the volume. He then said that it is disrespectful to go down a level on the organization chart and talk to HR after already talking with him about wages and tips. He told me to not go to HR after talking to him. This statement is completely dismissive of Swans “open door policy”. It implies that he is immune from any questioning or policy, and that HR is his subordinate. I found this very upsetting and felt that I was no longer safe at work, and that there was no space to seek support within management.

Mike ended the meeting with threats to suspend and/or terminate any employee who is caught talking about tips. Jason dismissed us back to work, and never showed any support or acknowledgment of the misconduct that he witnessed from Mike’s outburst.

I was shaken.

I would have never expected to be spoken to in such a disrespectful manner, especially knowing that the University of Victoria owns Swans. I thought that the University of Victoria would have chosen management with more tact to lead its businesses, and that this type of conduct would not be tolerated in by an institution with such a positive reputation as an employer.

The events that took place on June 8th have filled me with anxiety and have made going to work very emotionally difficult. I don’t feel safe confiding in HR or any other managers, with the fear of being bullied and disciplined for exercising my rights. I feel that Mike’s reaction and Jason’s inaction clearly don’t follow employment standards and are examples of workplace bullying and harassment. I could not believe that I was being disciplined for talking to HR, as they are supposed to be a safe resource to which employees can reach out without fear of intimidation.

Please take this letter as a sincere call to action against workplace bullying and injustice.

Sincerely,
K.J.

166 Comments

  • Patrick Smith says:

    I suggest the books “The Bully at Work”; “Bullying in the Arts” (I’m an artist who was bullied); and the website for The Workplace Bullying Institute. One thing they’ll all tell you, is don’t expect support from HR. They are there to support the organization and get employees to fall in line.

  • Ellen Chapple says:

    Wake up owners of Swan’s! Appalling that it is our university which has put this unprofessional and misguided management into place. Swan’s was once an entertainment hub of our city; my friends and I spent whole summers and every Thursday and Friday evening there 2005 – 2015. That’s a lotta drinks and plenty of tips for the always-cheerful servers. UVic, you have “managed” to destroy what was once a reliable income stream and big contribution to Victoria’s tourist industry. How are you going to correct course and replace these clowns with a management team that is in tune with Swan’s customers’ vibe?

  • Amanda says:

    I haven’t been to Swans since we tried going just once after the change in management. The entire vibe of the place was so drastically changed – the server confided in us that it was challenging to work there under the new management. We decided to not go to Swans until new management was put in place. Glad this petition is circulating! Swans was one of our fave places to go to and its unfortunate that a few terrible managers can ruin such a good thing. Thanks to Khadija for voicing this and all the others for coming together!

  • Jacob Lake says:

    It sucks when management can’t act properly. I’m in the midst of dealing with my own work problems and I wish you the best.

  • Al says:

    I’ve worked in this industry for 30 years and the way owners and management treat employees is appalling. I remember when great servers were rewarded for hard work and effort. I’m a breakfast server and because my establishment has a liquor license I get the below minimum wage. And that’s a bunch of crap our liscense doesn’t kick in till I’m half done my shift, Christy Clark thinks because we serve alcohol we make mega tips!! Well a lot of people are paranoid with the new drinking and driving laws so I’m lucky to sell a mimosa at lunchtime, plus people are more frugal with their money.
    All I really want to say is where did the loyalty between owners/ managers and servers go. What happened to everyone working together to make money, instead of owners telling guests they don’t have to tip so they don’t lose any money out of their pocket giving discounts. Customers are my clients and I serve them well so I will be rewarded with a gratuity, it’s unfair to pay us less, then continue to steal from us by not including a gratuity ( large groups) so they look good. Anyway thank you for listening to my rant and yes please tip your server because after taxs we’re really making about 7.50 per hour

  • Patty says:

    Sadly some management people believe they can disrespect the employees below them. And even sadder to say that this happens in quite a few places some of which present to the public as being wonderful to their staff. Thanks to all those employers who read their employees with respect. Every job is important in its own right. Anyone who throws education in the face of employees is a class act asshole. Swans should be ashamed of themselves. The food is not that good and in the past year it has gone from ok to bad!

  • Karen McKenzie says:

    WOW, an education gets you a management position at a shitty pub with a poor reputation and disgruntled employees! And you brag about it? And banning employees from speaking with HR? That’s like creepy men, telling little girls not to tell their parents what they are doing to them. I am so proud of the young women who are standing up to bullying, sexual harassment, pay inequity and all the other crap women have put up with for years. It makes it easier for the next woman to say ‘Hell no, you are not treating me like that!” My daughter is a server in a local restaurant (Pagliacchis) where the management treats her with respect and appreciation, and it’s a good thing. If she were ever bullied or humiliated like this young woman, her Mama would have systematic, unrelenting, and satisfying revenge! Small men on power trips – we are so over you.

  • someone who has lived in Victoria and heard stories about workplace harassment at Swans for years says:

    Sexism, bullying and dominance by male managers in service industry jobs? Surprise! Nothing has changed in 20 plus years-and it must. Some people here are complaining that the woman harassed by her boss should never have gone to HR-fine. Maybe so. Does that in anyway negate, or condone, the behaviour displayed by her bosses? No. Her mangers could have chosen to take her aside and discuss the issue with her privately, without harassing, bullying or threatening her. They chose to instead behave in a disgusting way towards a subordinate employee-and to do so in front of 2 other employees. Disgusting. If I ever step foot in Swans again, I’ll ask to see the management and ask him in front of a crowd of people if he condones workplace bullying? See how he likes it. Swans has been a sexist, classist, de-humanizing pompous pub since the days when, in my opinion, also the opinions and stories I have heard from many young women over the years regards this guy, Michael- what’s his name who likes to sexually harass, and much worse, young woman- guy who used to own the pub.

  • Anonymous Vancity says:

    Serious
    Workplace
    Abuse
    Not
    Acceptable!!

    Share this pls

  • Local says:

    So let me get this straight.. They serve sub-par food, brew horrible beer, fired all the musicians that had weekly gigs there, closed the dance floor AND treat their employees like shit?? Way to go Swan’s!! Firing the musicians undoubtedly caused for a decline in patrons already, but now.. Well now you better be ready to watch that decline grow exponentially!! This is a small town and tourist season is over.. I don’t think you will be seeing many locals!!! Pretty sad!!

    Sorry this happened to you Khadija!! I hope you find some relief in all the supportive messages here.
    I also have heard about the great work the Retail Action Network does and think you made the right choice when you approached them.

  • de Roo says:

    So let me get this straight.. They serve sub-par food, brew horrible beer, fired all the musicians that had weekly gigs there, closed the dance floor AND treat their employees like shit?? Way to go Swan’s!! Firing the musicians undoubtedly caused for a decline in patrons already, but now.. Well now you better be ready to watch that decline grow exponentially!! This is a small town and tourist season is over.. I don’t think you will be seeing many locals!!! Pretty sad!!

    Sorry this happened to you Khadija!! I hope you find some relief in all the supportive messages here.
    I also have heard about the great work the Retail Action Network does and think you made the right choice when you approached them.

  • Steve B says:

    I have patronized Swans for the last 7 years regularly, coming in 2-3x every week and dropping no less than $50 each time. So let’s say $6000 annually (conservatively). That’s small pickles in the scheme of things until you think that I brought friends, who then returned and brought friends. Etc.

    I echo the sentiment that in the past year things have taken a dive – particularly in the last 6 months.

    It is well within this young ladies rights to go to HR to question PROVINCIAL LAW. She was asking a question. If she was not entitled to regular minimum wage, it should have been simply explained that her job is a liquor server and the wage is $9.20 (now $9.60) and not incumbent on tips. To create an environment of intimidation and threats is unacceptable when facts and logic could have sufficed.

    I will begin taking my business to Canoe immediately (and I won’t miss the lackluster service.)

  • This is unacceptable and I won’t be going to Swans until Khadija receives the apology she deserves.

  • Wendy says:

    First of all, thsee people have no business managing a restaurant. Your staff are your front of house, the most important people to be happy. So you have a large function and you give the client a discount by waiving the GRATUITY??
    That alone is enough to show what kinds of guys these are. Shameful.

  • Vera says:

    Didn’t see a petition to sign. I have to reply to the comment about education. First of all just because you are educated does not make you better than anyone else nor give you the right to condescend to anyone. Second of all, there is a difference between being educated and knowing business policies, human rights and how to be a manager. The problem with some people who are in the position of management is that they automatically assume they know everything and can exercise anything they want!

  • Ryan Grant Smith says:

    Frequent guest at swans. Even with an apology i will now never return.

  • FormerServer says:

    I hope UVIC is paying attention and is considering the feedback it is getting through this.
    Everyone should feel supported by their management, and while some people would like to tell this young woman to “buck up” “its only a few bucks” “take one for the team” I am glad to see that the majority of the people commenting are supportive.

    Serving is a high low position as it is. You work hard, and sometimes tips suck. Making the employee take the hit so they could look good to guests…that method does not make sense to me…why would you waive the gratuity…waive something else on the bill?
    I would absolutely be calling that out to prevent that from happening again and seeking support if I did not feel my concerns were being heard or if I felt I was not being treated fairly.
    The conduct of the management was just down right abusive and gross. I hope you get the apology, and I hope these guys get a lesson in how to treat people properly.

  • olivia says:

    I am sick of seeing managers abuse their power! Good on ya for standing up !

  • Michael Vincent says:

    Sounds like a horrible situation and I feel very bad for you but no where in this do I see their version of the the situation, nor conformation from any of the other staff. So as far as I am concerned this is cyber bullying. If your claims are legitimate you should probably take your complaint to a government agency or really teach them a lesson and find another job.

  • Kristina says:

    This is so upsetting but I’m not surprised. I stopped going to swans after they canned the incredible regular entertainment. That pub used to be the hotspot during the week to party. I’ve been so disappointed many times going there because of the negative attitudes with certain staff members. I’m really sorry this has happened to you. I’ll make sure to share and get the word out because something needs to change. Thank you for sharing this, I applaud you for your courage. x

  • Tim says:

    Swans, you really have fallen a long way in terms of quality. Intimidation towards employees shows that your management is truly poor and they are the ones who should be looking for new employment. Perhaps, away from people.

  • Jim says:

    After reading this I honestly don’t understand why Swans is still in business. Clearly their management is a bunch of “Bros”, their food is barely passable as pub-fare, and the beer they brew is a disgrace to the West coast craft beer movement. Not impressed, but not entirely surprised.

  • Kenya says:

    Wow absolute solidarity peace and love

  • Sad Victoria citizen says:

    Truly, servers are some of the most unappreciated in the industry. It’s so sad to see how common bullying from male superiors is. A perfect example of poor behaviour towards its employees is Jam Cafe in Victoria, I’ve heard nothing but negative feedback from those whom have worked under Jim Walmsley’s ownership. A true playground bully in his natural habitat. He’s even gone so far as to prohibit the act of eating on shift, drinking (any) beverages on shift, using any supplies regardless if they have been paid for and primarily, unjust firing. Poor poor reputation, food quality…management quality and general atmosphere has changed and completely turned for the negative since it’s opening of its second location in Vancouver. Sad day for the servers out there.

    • Bye says:

      My roomate worked at Jam this summer and the stories she’d come home with would make me sick. I envision Jim as satan! It’s so unfair that he gets away with treating his staff like trash and I’d love to see his bullying exposed as they’ve done here with swans.

  • Signi says:

    Have been going there for decades. Stopped when they cut the music. Dumas move on their part. There’s other way better spots in town now. Michael rolling in his grave.

  • paul l howitt says:

    they sound like a couple of low lifes

  • Donna says:

    Swan’s was once a thriving, fun, cross generational establishment that has declined into a place of business that bullies staff and patrons, makes poor decisions and sheds a very poor snapshot of their management style. I was a faithful patron (2- 4 nights a week, and yes, at least one drink or more per night) of Swan’s until December 2015 and have not been back since- changes that they were incorporating at that time very clearly painted a picture of a place that I would not support.

    Kudos to you for coming public with this. It takes a lot of strength.

  • Yarrow says:

    Where do we sign the petition?
    You and every other server in this world are not servants. Those men deserved to be fired.

  • Evan Leeson says:

    As a long time patron who quit going ten years ago I have to say that the Swans I knew died long ago. Michael Williams would be sad to read this, I’m sure. UVic should do more to protect the workers and Michael’s legacy.

  • Khalela says:

    Solidarity Khadija!

  • Linda says:

    I would get this on the news and speak with someone at Uvic. Labor relations is another idea. He may be educated but an ass is an ass. Hope they both get fired and learn they can’t treat people that way. I always say Karma will bite you in the ass. Just give it time.

  • anonymous says:

    UVic should be a model for good labour management – not an example of terrible labour management. The ending of live music at Swans Brew Pub was a terrible decision. So is that stupid television glaring away amidst a world-class art collection. Michael Williams, UVic’s late benefactor, would spin in his grave over the descent of this once wonderful establishment into mediocrity. There is no excuse – it just comes down to poor leadership. What a pity. My estate plan has changed.

  • John says:

    Awful to hear, the ego of these managers is larger then they’re actual brains. Hope justice comes to them. Thank you for sharing your story

  • Fellow server says:

    I feel your pain…I too work….no sorry worked for a large franchise….its so called policies in place to protect staff…. dealt with awful management for months until most recently I was robbed while at work…when I brought it to their attention…. was basically told even if I watch the video…it was where everyone puts there stuff….so it won’t help…but I stressed I wanted the video watched…..and was told when they could…for me it was my last straw…. quit….but I was still robbed….o I called and spoke with a manager who said he’d watch it and get back to me…..o my understanding later that day…. heard nothing…I phoned the cops….hey go in tell him he has too…. days ago….till nothing….really….hile I may not be an employee anymore….they should still want to investigate after all there is a theif among them…but then they aren’t making an unlovable wage so wwhat would they care…..or me that was school lunches for a week….. hope you get that appology

  • Roderick says:

    I have just voted to support you Khadija. They will no longer have my patronage.

  • Hilarie Ann says:

    Wow, let’s see justice done for this woman, integrity not abuse and intimidation ! What has happened to Swan’s anyway, it used to be a fun place to go dancing and see live music …. ?

  • Ashley says:

    Sounds like Mike is choosing not to get my business!

  • MBoss says:

    Seriously? In this day and age Swan’s? I stand with Khadija.

  • Bill says:

    I am a former patron at Swan’s. Used to go there weekly with friends. It’s really gone downhill a lot recently — a lot of changes to things that used to make Swan’s great. Perhaps it’s now losing lots of money and the managers are taking out the stress on their employees, which is not okay.

  • JP says:

    Where is the petition to sign? Didn’t see it

  • Kaisha says:

    Shocking and disturbing! Another case where a women is mistreated, bullied and harassed with such unprofessional behavior. I would quit, file a grievance with BBB and share this letter to everyone. Victoria is small city the word gets around fast. I hope also that this is a wake call for other local businesses that are treating their staff like shit and taking advantage.

  • Ryan Coleman says:

    Is this a comment section? By leaving a comment am I signing a petition? Wish the whole process was more ‘straight forward’, and simple.

    Anyways bullying in the workplace is unacceptable.

  • CWhite says:

    Can’t make changes if you don’t speak up. So good for you for taking this on!!

  • Hayley says:

    Won’t be going to Swan’s anytime soon. Management should be fired!

  • Ron Faris says:

    Sad news. I will boycott Swan’s until their is new management.
    Thank for standing and speaking up, Khadija!

  • Savannah says:

    I hate power-tripping people like that. They think they can get away with doing whatever they want to you and you don’t have a right to stand up for yourself. I dealt with that kind of boss at my last job where he constantly humiliated him in front of us and then unrightfully fired him and blamed him for something he knew he didn’t do, just so he could fire him. It’s the managers loss, he was a great worker and a lovely person. I tried to help him get justice but no one would help, because we’re just “subordinates”. At the very least, he had me and all the other employees supporting him. But it seems you suffered this alone, and I can only imagine how horrible that feels. What they did was wrong, not what you did. <3 Even if this doesn't get resolved, you can be sure people now know what they did and many won't be going there anymore.

  • Meika Hare says:

    Good for you! I believe you. The world is cruel to low wage workers. I bet even when you get decent money you don’t get things like proper meal breaks. Fuck these guys!

  • Marian says:

    Ridiculous that servers get less because of tips anyway. Minimum wages should be $15. for everyone. I support this idea wholeheartedly. If Swan is screwing her out of a fair wages she only needs to make a picket sign to see how fast they smarten up.

  • Kevin C says:

    I give Kudos to the the lady to go to HR and complaint, it is truly unfair what management did. Whatever happens in this incident the reputation of Swans Pub and/ or the management personal will always go and be with them. Victoria is a small town and people know people in and around the restaurant and hospitality business and the one thing that goes with you is they’re reputation. I wouldn’t ever recommend anyone to work for Swans or work with any know of the 2 personal in question.

  • Mike says:

    Seems to me that her inquiry was legit and instead of answering it professionally, the manager chose insults and threats instead. With the high cost of living in Victoria it is no doubt they are aware that they can get away with this sort of bully tactic with what are ‘usually’ younger female employees in this industry. I for one am glad this has come to light and will avoid Swan’s as a result – there are better Caeser Sunday deals around anyways.

  • No one is holding a gun to your head to ever go to this tourist trap. Just don’t.
    There are three better pubs within 500 feet of Swan’s.

  • Nicole says:

    This is happening more and more, and employees are bullied into signing a confidentiality clause before they even start, at some places. I was motivated to quit after I found another position, and deemed my former employer for disrespect, fraud as well as disciplinary action by the provinces HR Act. I encourage you to speak out more about this because it’s happening across the country as well. Victoria has a high standard to follow in the service industry, and if any business screws up, they lose their license, period. It’s a tourist town, so they have to keep on their toes.

  • Steven Chalmers says:

    Mike Boyle and Jason are a couple of grade A douchebags. Never going back to Swan’s again and I will share this with my 500 friends in Victoria and none of them will ever go back either! That’s all it takes these days idiots, one big mistake like this one.

  • Mathew Davydiuk says:

    That really sucks. It does not surprise me. I used to work with a man in a wheel chair, and they were completly unsupportive of creating space for him, and when I approached management I literally had to argue debate, and being very assertive to get his needs met. I hope that swans shapes up.

  • Siobhan Roberts says:

    I’m glad you’re doing this. This isn’t even the first time I’ve heard negative stories about working at Swans. As one of the oldest and most established brewpubs in the city, I expect better from them. I hope this gives them the kick they need to stop exploiting their employees.

  • Anon says:

    I’m so sorry this happened to you! Good for you for calling them out

  • judy says:

    Not a place anyone should work until all management has been replaced with competent managers!!

  • Jean says:

    Until both of these management staff are terminated I will be terminating my weekly visits to swans brewpub.

  • Jill says:

    Completely unacceptable! These men should be fired! At the very least they should have to go through sensitivity training and anger management classes as well as do a full apology in front of the entire staff to let them know this is unacceptable and will not happen again, plus each employee should be allowed to talk with Human Resources because I am sure these men have done this before.

  • Wet coast ADR says:

    As a former career Bar / restaurant Mgr & owner I can categorically confirm this behaviour was systemic in the hospitality business. I know this because I managed in exactly the same manner as “Mike” in multiple of Victoria’s hot spots for food & music. I say “was” because over the nearly 20yrs in ownership I learned I increased my bottom line exponentially by treating all staff with respect collaboration & empowerment. Train empower & hold mutually accountable equals profit for all.
    I would like to hear the other side & there is always the other side to engage before deciding.
    As a small business meditation professional with extensive HR & LR experience I would be encouraging both parties if they wish to continue in this work relationship to engage a Rd party neutral to facilitate working through this conflict.
    My 2 cents.
    A.

    • Julia says:

      It would be great if you could call up Swan’s A and offer your services. Sounds like you are uniquely positioned to help move this incident to a place of learning.

  • Paloma Vita says:

    Not impressed with these managers to say the least. This sounds like good grounds to boycott Swans.

  • donna says:

    disgusting for sure

  • Amber says:

    Too small of a community inthe hospitality world for this. :/ sincerely really disappointing behaviour. Clearly not professional…..too bad but applauding the efforts of this woman for showing up for herself. Let’s support, where she had none.

  • Gordie says:

    I hope they both get fired, until then I’d never go there.

  • Deedra says:

    Disgusting! Do not give up! This was wrong on their part! I expect better of Swans management! This is NOT the pub I know n love!!!

  • Ashley says:

    Thank you Khadija for sharing your story and to the Retail Action Network for supporting. This kind of treatment in the workplace is totally unacceptable. As a UVic employee, I’m really disturbed that the organization I work for condones this (ongoing) violence against workers. I hope you get the apology you’re looking for <3

  • Martin Golder says:

    Been hearing about the terrible management of Swan’s for a couple of years now. I know many people including table 18 who no longer go there. I think the comment that suggests that the management is consciously running Swan’s into the ground to lower the price when UVic finally caves and sells. This is after all a standard unethical business technique practiced widely. Run the schools down so they can be privatized. Run the health system down so it can be privatized. Ring any bells? Certainly the links between these people should be investigated. Otherwise it is just absolutely miserable management in which case they should be fired.

  • Flora says:

    Khadija, thanks for sharing your story and making it a little safer for others to do the same.

  • Emma frank says:

    So unfortunate ! Good for you for standing up. They deserve to be fired , management is the key to a safe and positive work place.

  • Courtney says:

    As someone who knows Mike and has more than a decade of experience serving in this city, I can say that he is one of the best managers around. His ability to stay calm and rational in even the most emotional situations is one of his most admirable qualities.

    There definitely are some truly terrible managers in this city, and Mike is not one of them. Mike is clear, upfront, and honest and this article is trying to portray the opposite. I cannot even imagine him saying any of these quotes, other than the one about him speaking as calmly as possible even while being quite angry.

    What I will say is this: Mike is a business man through and through. He makes tough decisions and isn’t interested in being your buddy – he’s your boss. As a server, it’s not uncommon after a long day of having your emotions ripped from you by every table you serve to take things the wrong way. I would chalk this up to a misunderstanding and hope that those who are judging based on this one-sided piece remember a time when someone twisted your words.

    • Anonymous says:

      As someone who has worked in service for a decade in this city, and I have worked with Mike,
      I can probably tell that you’re a good looking woman and he’s never treated you poorly.
      As a man I’ve seen it happen for almost a year.
      If you’re good looking and you do as he says there won’t be a problem. You are right about him though. He does not want to be your buddy and that is totally acceptable. He is mostly a very good manager, but is a terrible person.

    • Suzzie Williams says:

      Misunderstood on the wage / no tips part? A server who has no chance of making tips on a shift, should at least be paid the actual minimum wage, not the liquor serving minimum wage. The whole thing stinks. Give the girl her dollar an hour if she isn’t making tips, would it really break the business? Or put an Auto Grat on the party, as is the industry standard. In your decade of experience may I ask how many shifts you have done where the possibility of tips was 0%? No a slow shift or a bad table, but a shift where there are no tips, a whole shift?

    • Ron Grant says:

      only a scum bucket would offer part of an employees “wage”as a promotion instead of a discount on food or drinks

  • Chelsea Berg says:

    That is very unacceptable behaviour on the manager’s part. I will no longer be a patron of Swans. Good for you for speaking out and sticking up for yourself.

  • Amber says:

    So sorry this happened to you Khadija! Never going to Swans again.

  • Brittany says:

    Management at swans sound like gems. I’m done spending money there- treat your staff with some respect. If you’re not going to allow them to collect tips then pay a living wage.
    Staff who are being treated like this: UNIONIZE.

  • Francis says:

    Beer Guys comment rings true.
    I spend a lot of coin at SWANS, I also tip ridiculously well. I have struggled with leaving SWANS for many reasons, I have seen how this place has gone from being a musician friendly, establishment where I loved to go to the most bizarre pub experience I have ever witnessed. I am mostly uncomfortable when I’m there, the energy has shifted and ever since new management has come in the place has gone to hell. Too bad, it was once a great pub.
    I thank my friend Gian for sending me this link.
    I choose to support KHADIJA

  • Neil Borecky says:

    Bring back Eddie!!!!!!

    • Survived says:

      Eddie was actually 10x worse and not only verbally abusive but physically… and he got away with it for years!!

  • Gary says:

    Mike Boyle and Jason McMillan sound like typical knuckledraggers.

    This incident should be investigated.

    Employer abuse is rampant in this country.

    I for one won’t be supporting Swans any more, which is unfortunate, as until now I dropped a lot of coin there.

  • Jen C. says:

    Note to self: Spend money at another pub, Swan’s is no longer on option. Unacceptable behaviour.

  • Bee Real says:

    I have also worked int he industry and have been treated terribly by management. They try and control you and treat you like a peasant which eventually was the catalyst to leave the industry. These two guys should be fired and I will never step foot in this place again as I cannot support any establishment that treats staff like sweat shop workers. I also know several servers who have an education so that comment is rude and uncalled for.

  • Casey Ryder says:

    While I totally agree that the behaviour of the two managers was ridiculous, would someone please clarify the initial wage issue of $9.20 per hour. I’m confused about that point.
    If that’s a typo, fix it asap, it greatly undermines the clarity of the dispute.

    • Adam says:

      The minimum wage in BC is $10.85, but for liquor servers there is a special minimum wage that is set lower, at $9.60. I’m not sure if this person is being paid 40 cents under minimum wage or if that was just an error. But the main argument here is that, since she was not receiving tips for the evening’s work, which is the justification for the special lower minimum wage rate, that she should at least be paid the standard minimum wage of 10.85 (Or, through negotiation, perhaps more. I think it’s completely reasonable to negotiate a different rate once the job description has changed).

    • Adam says:

      Edit: The special liquor server wage was $9.20 up until mid 2016. So it was likely the correct wage at the time.

    • Darcy L says:

      In BC, the minimum wage for workers in a liquor server position is $9.20/hr, significantly below the minimum wage of $10.85 for the rest of the workers in the province. The lower wage is intended to be offset by tips. In this instance, the server was assigned a shift where she would not be receiving any tips, yet was still paid the minimum wage for a tipping liquor server position.

  • Beer Guy says:

    Do not be surprised by Mike’s behaviour. He is there to run the pub into the ground so UVIC will sell it to his business partner Matt Mcneil and then they will run it under his group of pubs and the beer it produces will supply those pubs. Why the ownership hired someone that has connections to a potential buyer is beyond me. UVIC is out of its depth by owning this property.

    • So Long Swans says:

      That would explain why we’ve watched Swans circling the drain over the last few years. We used to go there all the time, after every show night, weekends, brunches, and watched as the quality of service, food, and management has eroded. The corporate overhaul, the price increases, the firing of Eddie, the getting rid of bands, the list goes on. I’m not at all surprise to hear that these types of managers are responsible, they should be fired. We stopped going there for a long time, until recently we tried it again, sat there for 15 minutes and walked out when no one bothered to come to our table to offer us a drink opting to stand at the bar chatting. That will suck if the Victoria Pub Company takes it over, I avoid MM’s other pubs for a whole bunch of other HR reasons. Swans used to be great, good thing we have so many other pubs in Victoria to take our business to now.

  • Chad says:

    This is completely unethical. To think there are people who would go to such lengths to protect their own ego’s.

  • Anon says:

    As a previous employee of Mike’s and a long time hospitality staffer here in Victoria I feel it is important to first say, get over it. You took what seems like 5 steps too many to solve a simple problem. I am sure you have made lots of tips on every other shifts, tips you probably do not claim on your taxes and allow you the privilege to make great money working less hours. You mention “below poverty wages”, again, not when you usually make cash tips every shift. Stop acting like you are some poor down on your luck soul. You were wrong to go to HR. No right-minded establishment is going to manipulate payroll for the couple hours you served that party. Was the reaction, if this is what actually happened, perhaps a bit heavy handed? Yes, but in the same light suck it up. You had a bad day. You overstepped your bounds, got reprimanded, didn’t like the answer you got and now boo-hood to an organization that in its ranks has a vendetta against people connected to this complaint. And let it be known that in those circumstances neither Mike not Jason were the issue. Also as someone who worked for Mike for years it is mindblowing to think of him ever reacting like this. And to the “appalled” people on the comment thread, the ones throwing out human rights code etc etc, you also need to relax. The hospitality industry in transitory in its design, quit, work somewhere else…if they will hire you after this.

    • Ryan says:

      Hey anonymous,
      Sounds like you’re Mike, put your name or quit ranting.

    • Vic says:

      I’ve been in the business for over 30 years. What this manager did and said was definitely offside. I would never treat employees the way this manager did. You must be a friend of this Mike guy to be defending him so blindly. She had every right to go to HR, and she deserves an apology. Furthermore, I for one will not be setting foot in Swans again.

    • Pj says:

      Everyone has the right to go to HR. EVERY ONE.

    • Anon says:

      I agree this sounds more like someone with a vendetta using her as an example which is unfortunate for her. I worked for mike for many years and he was the opposite of how she explained. Always would help anyone with a problem to get to the bottom of it. He was always on our side. This sounds VERY exaggerated!

    • Christie Eng says:

      I wonder about who you are, Anon. Your remarks sound pretty biased. It is important for all of us to speak up and to support others who do.

      You have a point about unclaimed cash tips on most shifts but nothing excuses the bullying behavior.

      As regular customers at Swans for years , we noticed that the atmosphere has changed to the negative. Decisions have been made which made us uncomfortable. We have been going somewhere else where we feel a mutual respecgt between ourselves, the servers and the management/owners. Even though they are busier than Swans they make us feel welcome. Many of the best servers who have left Swans are there.

    • Sammy says:

      Ya, OK Mr Boyle. Haha

    • Kylie says:

      Funny, if you truly believed in what you were saying, you wouldn’t show up anonymously. You know this is wrong. Pretty cowardly.

    • Louise says:

      Well said, anonymous! There are lots of people in this city who would say the same thing. If you are a half decent server, you make WELL above minimum wage on a regular night. We all take a hit now and then for a promotional party (that often supports a good cause)… it does not mean we are making a “below poverty wage”. GET A GRIP, do your job, and stop slandering good people who give you a reality check.

    • Cody Tucker says:

      You not only represent Swans Hotel and Public House, you represent your staff and our community in a GLOBAL ARENA for the standards that you help to set within the workplace. Victoria has a large resource base within the tourism industry, and your unprofessional manner reflects on us all in perpetuity. Get over yourself, keep things on track and above all, be an ambassador for your employees on the front lines. You’re making this an even bigger deal by not taking responsibility for your little power trip.

    • Mike (not the manager) says:

      No right to go to HR? Why are they even there then? Sounds like you are the manager.

      “No right-minded establishment is going to manipulate payroll for the couple hours you served that party”

      You mean no establishment with morals. Name some others that do this and I will be sure to avoid them. It takes the CFO or payroll staff mere minutes to adjust an employees wage for a few hours. This is what THEY do for a living.

  • Jessica colter says:

    It’s all true. I worked there during this time. And we were told discussing tips at all, on or off shift would get you fired. Such a poor management team. When you have people quiting every week and you can’t keep staff, you have to ask yourself. Am I right and everyone is wrong, or more likely the other way around? Boyles business plan is raise prices and you’ll make more money. Haha. I can’t wait to see how the winter goes with that plan. No respect for staff or customers or the brew pub they work for. Thanks for speaking out!!

  • Cat says:

    I feel like companies think this is acceptable in a town where people are literally throwing resumes at them and yet they forget that we are humans and not just machines to get money. Absolutely disgusting what Swans did and is probably continuing to do or has done in the past. Never recommending this place to anyone I meet.

  • Arthur Burton says:

    Unionise.

  • Former Server says:

    This kind of thing is sadly so common in the hospitality industry. Owners and managers regularly treat staff in ways that would never fly in other environments. I agree with other statements that there are always two sides to every story and I won’t condem the specific individuals named without hearing the entire story but I’m glad that you’re bringing this issue to light. As someone who has spent many years in the industry here in Victoria I can attest that changes desparetly need to be made. I’ve been yelled at for not wearing high enough heels, and I don’t mean calmly repremindanded in private, I mean yelled at, on the floor, in front of coworkers and customers. I’ve been called in for shifts and then sent home after 45 minutes because the rush never happened and only paid for the 45 min I worked, etc., etc. I’ve also had some amazing, fair, and upstanding employers but in general, the industry is a mess and seriously in need of an overhaul. For all those who say they’ll never go to Swans again after reading this you should add Earls, Darcy’s and whatever Wharfside is now called to your list of boycotts.

  • G says:

    This is sadly the norm for managers of restaurants and many retail outlets. Power hungry, rude management who treat people like they are expendable.. it’s time restaurants, construction companies, retail, etc. become more educated in how to treat their staff.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’ve never experienced a more collectively inept group of ” management,” operating with no accountability.

    Good on you, I feel like an apology is necessary to all current and former employees under this regime, I’ve been present on multiple occasions witnessing first hand the bullying not only by management but by that of the business partners of Jason McMillan during my tenure at Swans.

  • Anonymous says:

    Not surprised!

  • Anonymous says:

    I know of someone who quit due to bad behavior by management at this pub. Never will patronize again.

  • Anonymous says:

    You aren’t the first one to have work related issues with Mike Boyle in this town.

    He actually explicitly fired me for a health condition. He refused to give me meal breaks to eat which caused me to seize and faint because my blood sugar would drop. What a piece of work…..

    He had fired another girl at the restaurant I used to work at before as well because she was diabetic and needed to be able to have snacks in her pocket at the restaurant.

    Sorry you had to deal with that. What he did is a form of descrimination and othering you for not having the same education as him, while completely failing to acknowledge that not everyone has the same access to education.

    You have grounds for a workplace harassment suit. I would talk to a lawyer, especially if you reported it to HR and their representative failed to help you.

  • Liam says:

    As an alumnus and a patron I am very disappointed. Will be following up with the university and management.

  • Joanne says:

    Does BC not have a human rights commission? Take it to the top!

  • Harold Aune says:

    True entrepreneurs are not ‘bean counters ‘ and really need to own the business … UVic is simply holding onto a real estate bequeath to them from a true entrepreneur … sell it and do the world a favor! And leave the art in place!

  • N says:

    Is there anywhere that the other side have shared their side of the tragic events?
    As a career server I can say I’ve seen everything, but this story is missing something.
    Totally not defending “management” just wanting to hear all sides.
    Serving in Victoria is terrible, we have the cheapest humans in the world here.
    Hope you can mediate something that is fair for all. Good luck 🙂

  • Ben says:

    As a past patron and also as a friend of one of the staff, This is the second of these type of stories I have heard of management laying heavies on the girls that work there. I will not support a business that operates with a dictatorial mindset…….all people have the right to question policy, procedures and management honesty……and to consult Human Resources, Canada Labour and Union council for direction on controversial situations without fear of reprisal………University if Victoria its time to intervene and save the business……because people in droves are abandoning ship!…….Fire these mini Vladimir Putin wanna be’s….send them packing, lets see how their bully tactics work for them on a construction site……

  • John McKay says:

    As a long time customer of Swan’s I can say from experience Swan’s has never been so poorly managed as it has been since UVIC took ownership. Staff seems to be in a revolving door, every week there are new server’s, it was never like that when Michael Williams owned it, the same friendly, reliable staff, day in day out for years. The price of beer at Swan’s is now over the top, I have stopped ordering beer or wine when I meet friends there on Friday afternoon’s, although we have been going more frequently to Spinnaker’s as some of Swan’s best server’s now work there and the beer prices are lower. As for Mike and Jason, they are so unprofessional, that is no way to manage staff, it’s no surprise there is such a turnover with staff with such bad management, they need some professional training, not sure how they became managers with their attitude. From my weekly observation the numbers seem to be on a downward slide, no surprise after reading this story. Customers seem to be migrating across the street to the Drake, way better service and selection of beer. You should get a full apology from management and look for a better place to work whether they apologize or not. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, another reason to go elsewhere. One other thing, I know a musician and I asked him if he’s getting any gigs at Swan’s, he rolled his eyes and said most musician’s he knows are boycotting them.

  • Anonymous says:

    Stop being hyper sensitive and be better at your job. Mike has had hundreds of employees who have never seen that side of him. One thing in common with all the replies, is that they’re all FORMER employees. Just be better. End of story

    • G says:

      You are an absolute idiot. Be better? Why? To earn a raise or tips..?? Obviously not.

    • Matt b says:

      Lol. When was this issue ever about whether she was good at her job or not? You obviously know Mike personally and are trying to throw tar at this woman. He’s had hundreds of employees who have not publicly stated he harassed them? Wow! What a saint, this bitch must be lying and just mad that she’s bad at her job.

    • Panda says:

      Well hello there, Mike, (or is it Jason?) why not come out as yourself and share your side. Noone believes that you are some random person who just happens to support the management. Hilarious. Ahaha!

    • Anon says:

      This isn’t about her being better at her job. I’m sure she was doing her job just fine. It was about her being punished and humiliated for exercising her right to seek assistance and advice from HR. What a stupid, irrelevant comment for you to make.

    • Keith Rosenberg says:

      Maybe they are comments from Former Employees for a reason. That reason being that management truly sucks and no one who has any self worth will stay there. If you want to keep great employees treat them great. Take a lesson from Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson and back your employees, they in turn will go the extra mile for you. Unless they change they will lose business.

    • Amanda says:

      This has NOTHING to do with sensitivity or her job performance. Maybe you should have read her statement before commenting like a total ass. Or wait, maybe this is Mike?

    • Anonymous (this city has too many bad employers and managers) says:

      No one is being hypersensitive here. Mike Boyle has great standing with people who agree with him obviously. BUT the thing is he has a terrible reputation in the service industry from the point of view of employees. A lot of people with more education work under him and are better at his job.

    • Supervisor, bar-tender, and server here says:

      Employees in the service industry live off of their tips. This all started because gratuity was waived, leaving the poor girl to work her butt off and make an unlivable wage in the process. If management chose to do this for the patrons, it should not have been at the expense of the server.
      On the former-employee note: strong, smart, people who know their worth don’t work for greedy bullies; they become “FORMER employees” as fast as they can.

    • Mike (not the manager) says:

      I am in IT and have not had to work in the industry since I walked off my line cook shift at Villa Rosa 200 years ago. Why? Similar BS from those in power trying to play games with those beneath them – John the chef and some insane Greek woman Dino brought in to belittle the kitchen staff started over stepping their bounds with employees too. That sort of behavior is absolutely unacceptable and I am happy to be in an industry now that we rarely see it in (try yelling at the guy who knows all your passwords 😉

      Sorry for rambling.. I never worked for the guy but he sounds like a D

    • Mike (not the manager) says:

      Oh yeah and one other thing.. being the guy I just wrote about in the other post, I am the one with the expendable cash flow and the desire to sit in a pub and spend it on beer and appies. I know where I WONT be spending any time soon, and encourage other servers reading this to give us some examples of where to avoid… I haven’t stepped foot in John’s Place for 10 years – let’s hear about the rest of your low life managers!

  • Shannon says:

    I have had some terrible employers while serving. There should be a higher standard. If you aren’t being given tips it’s completely unfair not to be given the standard minimum wage. This is awful and I totally 100 percent support you.

  • Sarah says:

    Thank-you for coming forward and speaking out! The retail action network is doing awesome work.

  • haley says:

    I will always support another server in the industry. Our wage should be at least minimum to avoid situations like these. I have heard once a manager say to a female employee working as a server, “If you want a raise you should try to become prettier so your tips are better.” F*** that.

    All the best to you on your journey of justice!

  • rob says:

    its time people put an end to this.how about going to complaint to university and go to the newspaper and tv , make them pay !!!!!

  • Lauren says:

    He should be ashamed of himself. What a disgrace! I hope you get the apology you deserve!

  • Steve says:

    Swans sucks if they do not discipline those two clowns!

  • Sara says:

    Shocked! So glad you had the courage to speak out. I sincerely hope UVIC also gets wind of this. You are the voice for, I am sure, many women and men in the serving industry. Managers should back you, not fight you. Tons of intelligent, capable people work in the industry. There should never be tolerance for this. I am done with Swans.

  • Anonymous says:

    Both should lose their jobs, absolutely terrible. I for one will NEVER go there again after hearing this.

  • May says:

    I would not work there. Maybe apply elsewhere…?

  • Arianna Wood says:

    Glad you’re speaking out Khadija!! No one should be treated like that from an employer.

  • Anonymous says:

    Swans was the worst place I have ever worked. I can agree that management and the operations from “above” don’t provide a safe, fair or healthy work environment for their staff. It’s sad to see that this establishment continues to run a place that treats employees like they are nothing. No value, no compassion.

  • Sarah Thornber says:

    I’m glad that the management and establishment are finally getting some negative press. There have been many that have not spoken up publically.

  • Gian Luther says:

    This is disgraceful. I am a former employee of Swans Brewpub and I can completely, 100% attest that these two management members conduct themselves in exactly this manner. It has occurred more than once. They have zero respect for their employees.

  • joe hansen says:

    his is what happens when you hire people that have safe zones at university’s welcome to the real world lol

  • Bert Zethof says:

    I have gone to Swan’s Pub many times and am shocked that this is how you treat your staff. I was already disillusioned about the place when you got rid of the classic rock and dancing. But this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back for me. I won’t be going there anymore. Suggest you apologize and compensate this employee.

  • Evan Churchill says:

    I never knew UVIC owned swans, no wonder its such a shitty pub!

  • Claudine Frigon says:

    I have also been poorly treated by one of the manager there and never went back.
    These guys are not good managers all together.

  • Ian Moram says:

    those men should be fired.

  • Catherine Novak says:

    This is wrong on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin.

  • Wade Freeman says:

    Wow Mike & Jason sound like a couple of douche bags! I’m not surprised though, restaurant and bar staff suffer through this kind of treatment far too often in Victoria. I know this because I worked in the restaurant industry for years in Victoria and witnessed a lot of abusive behavior and abuse of seniority on the part of managers. This needs to change!

  • Deanna Sobieroy says:

    All the power to you sister!

  • Christina Winter says:

    I would ask for a lot more than an apology – this type of behaviour is criminally unacceptable.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is shocking. Not impressed.

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