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Alberta Employment Standards Appeal Victory by Osuji & Smith

Alberta Employment Standards Appeal Victory by Osuji & Smith

After winning a landmark Alberta employment case in spring, Charles Osuji, our CEO and Managing Partner, has done it again, successfully winning an appeal in another employment law case this summer.

In the original case, the court ordered C.S.S. Office Furniture Systems Service Inc. to pay Leonard Burns (our client) wages and overtime pay totalling $3,449.02. C.S.S. Office Furniture Systems Service Inc. appealed the order on August 11, 2022.

The Appeal

According to the Employment Standards Regulation, the overtime provisions of the Employment Standards Code “do not apply to employees who are employed in:

  • a supervisory capacity,
  • a managerial capacity, or
  • a capacity concerning matters of a confidential nature;

and whose duties do not consist of work similar to that performed by other employees who are not so employed.”

So the appeal was based on the nature of Leonard Burns’s employment role. C.S.S. Office Furniture Systems Service Inc. (the “Appellant”) appealed the overtime pay order on the grounds that Burns (the “Respondent”) was employed in a supervisory capacity that exempts him from overtime pay according to the Regulation.

The Appeal Body reviewed the exemption in section 2(1) of the Regulation (referenced above) along with evidence and testimony presented at the hearing to determine if the Respondent’s circumstances fall within the criteria to exempt him from overtime pay.

The Evidence

Alberta Employment Standards Appeal Victory by Osuji & Smith Calgary Employment Lawyers
Alberta Employment Standards Appeal Victory by Osuji & Smith Calgary Employment Lawyers

Twelve witnesses gave testimony about employment roles at the Appellant and the nature of the Respondent’s work. The term “supervisor” was frequently used to describe the Respondent, though his role varied depending on the job. Multiple witnesses admitted the Appellant used job titles loosely, and all employees pitched in to get the job done, regardless of their role or title.

The Respondent admits to referring to himself as a supervisor despite never being given an official title by the Appellant. Fellow employees considered the Respondent a supervisor in terms of his knowledge, experience, and ability to take the lead on the job. He was given leadership duties and was seen as a capable supervisor by his superiors and coworkers.

But his responsibilities did not include the hiring, firing, demotion, or promotion of employees, and he had no authority to change employee wages or conduct performance assessments. Nor did he set employee schedules or get involved in strategic decision-making about the company. He did not have the authority to commit the company financially.

From 1993 until 2012, the Respondent was paid an hourly wage and a rate of 1.5 for overtime hours. In 2012, he requested to be paid a salary so his income was more predictable, and he was offered a rate of $25 per overtime hour, though the Appellant called it “additional compensation” since salaried employees were not entitled to overtime.

The Respondent was not fully aware of his rights and entitlements under the Code, and all parties involved in this case seemed to have an erroneous understanding of overtime entitlement regulations.

The Victory

Despite plentiful testimony and evidence presented by the Appellant, Charles Osuji defended the rights of the Respondent compellingly, resulting in another victory related to Alberta’s Employment Standards.

The Appeal Body decided that the Respondent’s duties did not fall under that of a supervisory role, regardless of the informal title given him throughout his employment with the Appellant. Therefore, they decided the Respondent is not exempt from overtime pay according to the Regulation, and confirmed the order that the Appellant pay the Respondent the overtime owed.

Our provincial employment legislation is intended to protect the rights of Alberta employees. Some employers misunderstand the intricacies of the law, and some choose to ignore it or twist it in their favour. The award-winning employment lawyers at Osuji & Smith are committed to shedding light on employment regulations and supporting Alberta employees. Contact us today for help with your employment standards issue.