TORONTO, June 23 /CNW/ - Cindy Fulawka, who last December launched a
proposed national class action against The Bank of Nova Scotia for unpaid
overtime, filed her certification record with the Ontario Superior Court of
Justice on Friday, June 20, 2008.
Ms. Fulawka is suing the Bank for $250 million in general damages for
unpaid overtime and for $100 million in punitive damages. The proposed class
action covers thousands of current and former non-management, non-unionized
employees of the Bank who are or were personal or small business bankers
working at the Bank's retail branch offices across Canada (the "class
Ms. Fulawka is a personal banking representative who has worked in
several of the Bank's branches in Saskatchewan and Ontario for almost
20 years. In support of her request to certify her claim as a class action,
Ms. Fulawka has filed six affidavits from current or former employees of the
Bank from across Canada, including her own, all of whom allege that they were
required to work unpaid overtime by the Bank in order to meet their basic job
Ms. Fulakwa said, "I was certain that I wasn't the only person who was
forced to work for free. I'm encouraged that other personal banking officers
came forward in support."
The evidence filed by Ms. Fulawka includes that class members had to work
over lunch and before and after hours regularly in order to meet their sales
targets. In one case, an affiant explains that he was actually demoted by the
Bank after complaining about his unpaid overtime.
In addition to the evidence from her co-workers, Ms. Fulawka has filed
three affidavits from experts on issues such as the prevalence of unpaid
overtime in the workplace, the ineffectiveness of the enforcement provisions
of the Canada Labour Code (to which the Bank is subject), and the possibility
of determining liability and damages on a class-wide basis through the use of
Lead counsel for Ms. Fulawka and the putative class members are Roy
Elliott O'Connor LLP ("REO") and Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP ("SGM"). The
firms are joined by a team of law firms across the country who will ensure
that class members in all provinces are represented.
This action is the second largest employment-related class action ever
undertaken in Canada. The first was launched by Dara Fresco in June of last
year against CIBC, also for unpaid overtime. REO and SGM are counsel in the
CIBC action as well. While The Bank of Nova Scotia lawsuit is entirely new, it
alleges many of the same types of problems relating to unpaid overtime as in
the CIBC claim. SGM and REO are also lead counsel in an overtime class action
against CN Rail launched in April.
Douglas Elliott, a partner of REO said that "The problem of personal
banking officers and other sales-oriented employees working unpaid overtime
has been a chronic problem in the U.S. for years. The evidence we have filed
suggests that this problem also exists in Canada."
Louis Sokolov, a partner of SGM said that "The affidavits of class
members disclose a long-standing and systemic practice of unpaid overtime at
Scotiabank and a corporate culture in which employees must focus on meeting
sales irrespective of whether these can be achieved within an employee's
regular hours of work."
Mr. Elliott added, "I'm not surprised that we have had such a great
response to these two actions given what we are being told about the treatment
of these workers. One of our affiants told us that on after-hour "call nights"
employees weren't paid or given dinner. Instead, $20 gift certificates to
Harvey's and Swiss Chalet were given to employees who booked the most client
appointments on call nights."
Mr. Elliott noted, "Offering someone a $20 fast food coupon is a poor
substitute for paying the overtime the law requires."
Mr. Sokolov added, "The Canada Labour Code clearly states that the class
members must be paid for overtime that is required or permitted by the
employer in excess of eight hours per day or 40 hours per week. If an employer
gets the benefit of an employee's overtime, the employer must pay for it."
Other class members can request, in strict confidence, more information
about the class action at www.unpaidovertime.ca or by calling 1-888-687-2431.
For further information:
For further information: Susan Reisler, (416) 504-8464,
firstname.lastname@example.org; Rachel Thexton, (604) 609-6153,