In a first major lawsuit of its kind, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, was accused with the charge of violating overtime laws involving its frontline workers, including tellers, personal bankers and assistant branch managers.
The lawsuit was launched in June of last year with Ms. Fresco as the representative plaintiff. Ms. Fresco, in her mid-30s, has worked at CIBC in Toronto for 10 years. She currently works as a head teller at a CIBC branch in mid-town Toronto, earning an annual salary, as of Novmber 2007, of $30,715.00, according to court documents.The unpaid overtime allegations are hotly contested by CIBC. To fend off the attack on its employment policies it has retained its own legal stalwarts, Patricia Jackson of Torys and John Field of the blue-chip management-side law firm Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie.
Under class-action law, a judge must consider a number of factors before certifying a case, including whether the legal pleadings disclose a cause of action, if there is an identifiable class, common issues among the proposed class members and if a class proceeding is the preferable form of action.A certification hearing is the first and important stage of a class-action suit. The judge decides if the lawsuit can go forward naming only one or two people as representatives of the larger class. If CIBC wins, it means employees would have to sue individually - a long, arduous and costly process that most wouldn’t pursue.
Robert Bayne, a management-side labour lawyer at Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti in Toronto said, the problem is that while employers docket hourly workers’ time, that’s often not the same for those on salary, so they run into evidentiary issues when defending compliance with their workplace overtime policies.