Class action overtime suit against CN to proceed

Court says fundamental issue of whether first line supervisors qualify as managers broad enough to proceed with class action

A class action suit for unpaid overtime against Canadian National Railway Company (CN) has been given the go-ahead by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Michael McCracken launched the class action on behalf of about 1,500 current and former CN first line supervisors who claim CN misclassified them as managers. McCracken claimed first line supervisors worked an average of 50 hours a week and sometimes as much as 90 hours a week, but didn’t receive overtime under the Canada Labour Code because they were considered managers.

Though the jobs of first line supervisors can vary significantly — as many as 70 different positions — the court found the heart of the debate lent itself to a class action hearing. The fundamental question to be determined, said the court, was what were the minimum requirements for a manager under the code in the context of CN’s organization? If the position of first line supervisor, in its various incarnations, didn’t meet these requirements, then the employees in the class would be entitled to overtime pay. If some met the requirements, then the class could be divided and individual claims could be pursued, said the court.

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