Overtime class actions are in the headlines again. On February 22, 2019, a class action claim seeking damages of over $100 million was filed against Flight Centre, an Australia-based travel services provider with stores in Canada and internationally. The claim alleges that Flight Centre systematically failed to pay overtime to its retail sales employees, referred to as “travel consultants”, requiring them to consistently work more than their scheduled hours, and implemented policies that fail to comply with the overtime entitlements under employment standards legislation.
Continue Reading

In recent years, Canadian courts have increasingly heard large civil claims against Canadian companies for alleged human rights violations in their foreign operations. As we have discussed previously, judges faced with these claims must determine whether the court’s jurisdictional reach extends to the company’s activities in its global supply chain, thus permitting foreign claimants to pursue their action in Canada.
Continue Reading

We recently discussed the rising number of claims against Canadian companies for alleged human rights violations in their overseas operations or supply chains. In that article we described the ongoing class action lawsuit against Loblaws and Joe Fresh launched by Bangladeshi garment workers in response to the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Click here for a link to the article.

We also commented on a general increase in litigation against Canadian multinational corporations, including the current case against Toronto-based, Hudbay Minerals Inc., which was brought by a group of indigenous Guatemalan Mayans for human rights violations related to a mining venture.

The reputational risks associated with these cases are serious, particularly in the age of online media and investor activism. On April 3, 2016, The New York Times published a front-page article on the Hudbay Minerals Inc. case entitled, ‘Outcry Echoes Up to Canada’.
Continue Reading

Since 2007 there have been five significant overtime class action cases in Canada.  Two of these cases have been labelled “off-the-clock” cases — cases in which employees allege they were expected to work overtime without being paid for it.  Both off-the-clock class actions were eventually certified.  One of those cases has now settled.

The remaining three overtime class actions are “misclassification” cases in which employees allege that their employer misclassified them as exempt from statutory overtime entitlements.  Courts have been more reluctant to certify the misclassification cases because, in a majority of those cases, the proposed plaintiff class has not been sufficiently similar to justify a class action proceeding.

The Ontario Court of Appeal’s recent decision in Brown v. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce confirms the prevailing view that employers are most vulnerable to issues that arise when their employees’ hours are not properly monitored, recorded, enforced or compensated.  Employers continue to be liable to individual employees for misclassifying them as “overtime exempt”, but it is less likely that such misclassifications will give rise to the added liability that is associated with a class action.
Continue Reading