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CIBC will pay $153M to settle overtime class-action lawsuit from 2007

CIBC will settle a 15-year-old class-action lawsuit brought by workers who were uncompensated for overtime work, lawyers representing current and former employees said on Thursday. (Matt Howard/CBC - image credit)
CIBC will settle a 15-year-old class-action lawsuit brought by workers who were uncompensated for overtime work, lawyers representing current and former employees said on Thursday. (Matt Howard/CBC - image credit)

CIBC will settle a 15-year-old class-action lawsuit and pay a total of $153 million to employees who were uncompensated for overtime work, plaintiff lawyers say.

Dara Fresco, a former CIBC teller and class counsel, brought the case forward in 2007.

"It is good news for the class to have this case finally resolved," Fresco said in a statement released by Goldblatt Partners LLP, the Ontario law firm representing the CIBC employees involved in the class action.

"I am very happy that the case is settling. This settlement is a fair compromise that will bring meaningful compensation to thousands of my fellow class members."

WATCH | Dara Fresco takes on CIBC in 2007: 

The Ontario Court of Appeal last year dismissed an attempt by the bank to overturn a lower-court ruling in favour of the class-action case on behalf of about 31,000 retail bank employees.

CIBC spokesperson Tom Wallis said in an emailed statement to CBC News that the settlement will avoid further legal costs and allow the bank to put the matter behind it.

"We believe CIBC has a clear, accessible and effective overtime policy and practices," he wrote, noting that the company is proud of the work environment it has created. "Where overtime is required or permitted of eligible team members, it is paid."

The agreement must be approved by the Ontario Superior Court before it will become binding.

'Power in numbers,' law instructor says 

The settlement is a victory for workers in Canada, said Daniel Tsai, a business and law instructor at Toronto Metropolitan University. The class action covers a period between 1993 and 2009.

"This decision in itself is a very positive development for workers in the sense that the settlement shows that there is power in numbers," Tsai said. "It's also very much an important thing to have compensation for work that is done."

Banks typically have "a culture of hard work and also an expectation that staff should go above and beyond because they're driven by the profit motive," he said.

"So I think that this is an important settlement because it shows that the bank didn't have the stomach to keep on fighting the class action."