On June 18, 2009, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice refused to certify a class action launched by a bank employee that claimed $600 million in damages. The class action was launched by an employee of CIBC (the “Bank”) who claimed that the Bank’s overtime policy was illegal and that bank employees were required to work overtime without overtime pay.
One of the factors the Court considers before it certifies a class action is whether the claims of the class members raise “common issues”.
In coming to the conclusion that the employees did not share “common issues”, the Court determined that the Bank’s overtime policy was lawful. The overtime policy grants overtime to employees who were “pre-approved” to work overtime. The overtime policy also gives employees the right to elect time off in lieu of overtime.
As such, the essence of the employees’ claim was that the Bank was not complying with its overtime policy. An analysis of whether the employees would be successful would then be dependent on the individual factual circumstances of each employee. Since the resolution of the claim is dependent on the individual circumstances of each employee, the Court denied certification of the class action. Therefore, any claim against the Bank for unpaid overtime must proceed individually.
This case is significant because it raises questions on whether employees or former employees can successfully launch a class action against an employer for unpaid overtime instead of suing the employer individually. If you have any questions about this case or the legality of your company’s overtime policy, please contact your Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.
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