Starbucks Canada Facing $50-Million Class Action

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TORONTO — A new $50-million class action alleges Starbucks Canada store managers are being excluded from receiving overtime pay, despite often working up to 80 hours a week.

The proposed class action, led by Toronto-based Goldblatt Partners, has been commenced on behalf of all current and former employees of Starbucks Coffee Canada Inc. who held the position of store manager at Starbucks-operated stores in Ontario from Oct. 1, 2014 to the date of certification.

The statement of claim alleges, among other items, 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 (ESA). It claims 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.

In a statement to The Toronto Star, a Starbucks spokesperson said the company would respond to the class action’s allegations “as appropriate in the course of litigation.”

“At Starbucks, we pride ourselves on being a great place for our partners to work,” the statement said. “We have a long legacy of progressive and responsible employment that rewards partners for their contributions, adds to a great work environment and promotes a shared responsibility for individual and company success.”

The suit, filed earlier this week, must now be certified by the courts to proceed as a class action.
Under Ontario law, employees are entitled to time-and-a-half pay after a 44-hour work week, but supervisors are not — as long as they only do non-managerial tasks on an “irregular or exceptional basis.”

This is the exemption that Starbucks allegedly relied on to disqualify its store managers from claiming overtime, according to the suit.

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