An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled against the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in an overtime class-action lawsuit filed more than a decade ago.
Judge Edward Belobaba found the bank liable for breaching its overtime obligations to a class of about 31,000 current and former tellers, personal bankers and other front-line workers in branches across Canada.
Plaintiff lawyers say Belobaba said in reasons released today that the Toronto-based bank was “careless and indifferent, indeed negligent” about its obligation to comply with the requirements of the Canada Labour Code and should have known better.
“It is a multibillion-dollar financial institution with an able legal staff that can easily advise on the requirements of federal labour law,” he wrote.
“For some reason this didn’t happen. The bank dropped the ball, to be sure.”
Belobaba ruled CIBC’s overtime policies and hours-of-work recording practices were unlawful and impeded overtime claims.
“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 lead plaintiff.
The case filed in 2007 was the first class-action brought in Canada against the overtime policies of a major Canadian corporation. The Court of Appeal for Ontario certified in 2012 the lawsuit as a class action.
Specific damages owing to employees have not yet been determined.
CIBC said it is reviewing he decision and assessing next steps such as the possibility of an appeal.
“We believe we have effective overtime policies and practices in place, including a clear overtime policy that is easily accessible,” said spokeswoman Trish Tervit.