A recent ruling by the B.C. Supreme Court may open the door to class actions by employees for overtime pay.
When Cori Macaraeg was dismissed by her employer, a pay day loan company, she sued in court for wrongful dismissal and launched a class action seeking overtime pay.
Macaraeg’s employer objected to the overtime claim on the basis that the court did not have jurisdiction. The employer argued that only the Employment Standards Branch could enforce the overtime claim since overtime is a statutory right under the Employment Standards Act.
After an extensive review of the case law, the court concluded that the minimum requirements of the Employment Standards Act, including overtime pay, form an implied term of every employment contract. Accordingly, the right to overtime is not simply a statutory right, but is also a contractual one, and can be pursued in court just as any other claim arising from contract.
The decision opens the door for Ms. Macaraeg to seek to have her overtime claim certified by the court as a class action, which would be a first in British Columbia.