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Starbucks Canada store managers fight for overtime pay with $50-million class action

The Toronto Star has reported on this proposed class action against Starbucks for failing to pay its store managers for overtime.

As the Star explains, under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000, employees are entitled to time-and-a-half pay after a 44-hour work week. However, the Act exempts supervisors from this requirement, provided they perform non-managerial tasks only on an “irregular or exceptional basis.” This is apparently why Starbucks believes that it does not have to pay overtime to its store managers.

However, the lawsuit claims that Starbucks store managers perform non-managerial tasks on a regular basis. They are frequently and regularly required to serve customers, prepare food and drinks, wash dishes and clean several days a week.

The Star spoke to Josh Mandryk about the basis for the lawsuit:

… Josh Mandryk, a lawyer at Toronto-based Goldblatt Partners which is leading the class action, said store managers regularly do the same work as baristas and other employees — entitling them to the same overtime protections under the law.

“If you drink coffee from Starbucks then chances are you’ve been cashed out and had your drinks made by a store manager,” said Mandryk.

The Star article notes:

Regular Starbucks employees are entitled to overtime pay but it is company policy to schedule them so their hours rarely exceed provincial overtime thresholds, according to the class action. 

By contrast, [the plaintiff] regularly worked “additional coverage hours when employees called in sick, quit while still on the schedule, showed up late, or no-showed for their shifts,” sometimes working 12- to 18-hour days, the statement of claim adds.

…[T]he suit says Starbucks has failed to adequately monitor and record store managers’ hours, “dissuaded” them from reporting hours worked beyond their scheduled shifts, and effectively prevented them from “claiming or obtaining compensation for their unpaid hours worked.”

The Star also spoke to Geetha Philipupillai about how common it is for employers in the retail industry to misclassify their employees:

Geetha Philipupillai, co-counsel at Goldblatt Partners, called misclassification of working managers to exempt them from overtime pay a “systemic problem in the retail industry.”

“We hope this class action sends a strong message to retail employers about the importance of properly classifying their working managers as entitled to overtime pay.”

Read the article here.

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Statement of claim served in proposed Starbucks Canada class action

The statement of claim in the proposed Starbucks Canada class action was issued on August 7, 2020 by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. It has been served on the defendant, Starbucks Coffee Canada Inc.

The statement of claim alleges, among other things, that Starbucks Store Managers in the Province of Ontario are “working managers” who are entitled to overtime pursuant to Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (the “ESA”). It claims that Starbucks violated the ESA and its contracts of employment with its Store Managers by misclassifying them as persons who are not entitled to overtime under the ESA and for failing to pay them overtime pay in accordance with the ESA.

You can read the statement of claim here.

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