KPMG faces $20-million overtime suit

Claim states employees forced to work 90-hour weeks while only billing for 60

A former employee of accounting firm KPMG LLP in Toronto is spearheading a $20-million class-action lawsuit for unpaid overtime.

The lead plaintiff, Alison Corless, worked at KPMG from 2000 to 2004 as a technician. She alleges the firm owes her $87,000 in overtime.

The statement of claim, filed with the Ontario Superior Court by law firm Juroviesky and Ricci LLP, says KPMG supervisors regularly required employees to work 90-hour weeks while only billing clients for 60 hours.

The claim states KPMG management ordered employees "to charge 50 and 60 hours per week. It is well known in the accounting and professional industry that hours worked by a productive employee are approximately one-third more than the hours they charge."

The pressure "to eat time was pervasive and [employees] that did not 'eat their time' were pushed out by the defendant."

While chartered accountants, the bulk of KPMG staff, aren't covered by overtime rules, the suit covers other employees such as lawyers, non-chartered accountant staff and other employees who worked more than 44 hours in a week, were not paid overtime and are not exempt under applicable regulations.

The suit follows a $600-million class-action suit brought against the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in June by head teller Dara Fresco, who claims the bank owes her $50,000 in unpaid overtime. When the claim was filed, experts warned it was only the tip of the unpaid-overtime iceberg.

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