Scotiabank becomes the latest target of unpaid overtime suit

Suit alleges front-line employees must work extra hours without pay to complete work

On the heels of two high-profile class action suits in the financial services industry, another Canadian bank has become the target of a lawsuit for unpaid overtime by non-management employees.

Cindy Fulawka, a long-time employee of Scotiabank, is fronting a class action suit on behalf of thousands of current and former non-management, non-unionized employees who are or have been personal bankers or other front-line customer service employees at Scotiabank locations across Canada. Fulawka, who has worked at branches in both Saskatchewan and Ontario, claims she has worked about 10 to 15 hours of overtime per week for the 15 years she’s been with the bank. She also says during RRSP season, she and other employees were expected to be available at all hours and make calls during evenings and weekends. The suit claims employees aren’t paid anything for these extra-hour duties.

The statement of claim alleges front-line customer service employees are given workloads that can’t be completed during normal working hours. As a result, they’re required or allowed to work overtime to meet the demands of their jobs without getting paid for it. If true, this would be a direct violation of the Canada Labour Code.

Lawyers at Roy Elliot Kim O’Connor, the firm also representing CIBC employees in their unpaid overtime lawsuit launched in June 2007, say they have evidence of unpaid overtime at Scotiabank branches in every province and territory, supporting Fulawka’s assertion the situation is widespread at Scotiabank.

In a statement responding to the allegations, Scotiabank denied its employees have been asked to work unpaid overtime and its employee policies have been applied “fairly and consistently.” It also said its overtime policy is based on the Labour Code.

The Scotiabank lawsuit is completely separate from the CIBC action. However, in announcing the suit, the employees’ counsel suggested these actions, along with another launched in September 2007 against KPMG, an audit, tax and advisory service provider, may indicate unpaid overtime is an area of concern in the financial services industry.

Jeffrey R. Smith is editor of Canadian Employment Law Today, a sister publication to Canadian HR Reporter that looks at employment law from a business perspective. For more information, visit www.employmentlawtoday.com.

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