Ontario Court Finds CIBC Liable in Overtime Class Action

Superior Court of Justice in Thunder Bay
Superior Court of Justice in Thunder Bay in the evening.

TORONTO – The Ontario Superior Court of Justice issued reasons for judgment in the long-running unpaid overtime class action lawsuit against Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).  The Court ruled in favour of the class of approximately 31,000 current and former tellers, personal bankers and other front-line workers in retail branches across Canada, finding that CIBC  breached its overtime obligations to the Class.

The law firms of Roy O’Connor LLP, Sotos LLP and Goldblatt Partners LLP represent the Class Members in this action.

The class action lawsuit (Dara Fresco v Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) was initially launched in 2007, and was the first class action brought in Canada against the overtime policies and procedures of a major Canadian corporation.

In ruling in favour of the Plaintiff Dara Fresco and the Class Members, Justice Edward Belobaba found that, among other things:

“…CIBC was careless and indifferent, indeed negligent, about its obligation to comply with the requirements of the [Canada Labour] Code. I can also find that the bank should have known better. It is a multi-billion-dollar financial institution with an able legal staff that can easily advise on the requirements of federal labour law. For some reason this didn’t happen. The bank dropped the ball, to be sure.”

Justice Belobaba found that the Bank’s overtime policies and hours-of-work recording practices were unlawful, were system-wide in nature and impeded class member overtime claims.  His Honour also found that the Bank “must be found to have permitted (or not prevented) all uncompensated hours of the class members”.

“This is great news.  I am so pleased that the judge concluded that CIBC has over many years imposed policies that fall short of its legal obligations to pay overtime to CIBC employees”, said Dara Fresco, the representative Class Plaintiff.

According to lead class counsel David O’Connor, Louis Sokolov and Steven Barrett: “This is an excellent decision for the Class Members and employees generally, and some good news for employees at a time when good news for employees and everyone else is in short supply.  This was a long, hard fought battle against one of Canada’s largest and most profitable corporations. We are proud of Dara Fresco’s courage. She came forward in 2007 and assumed the role of representative plaintiff while she was still employed at the Bank. Our team now looks forward to the next phase and ensuring that Bank employees are paid appropriately for all of their unpaid hours they worked over the years.”

While the decision finds that CIBC knew or should have known that it had failed to pay for overtime hours worked, the specific damages owing to any employees have not yet been determined.  According to Class counsel, “it is to be hoped that, instead of continuing to challenge Class members’ overtime entitlements, CIBC will accept Justice Belobaba’s straightforward and eloquent reasons, and agree to a fair, reasonable and expeditious process for determining how much unpaid overtime is owing to class members.”

For more information about the case see: www.cibcunpaidovertime.ca


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