A major Canadian energy company has been hit by a class action lawsuit for independent contractor misclassification for their 7000 contractors.
The first of its kind, there are a number of Class Action Lawsuits currently working their way through the Canada court system, where companies have misclassified their workers and temporary employees as independent contractors.
In this case, the lawsuit alleges retailer Just Energy misclassified employees as independent contractors to avoid legal obligations like minimum wage.
The class-action lawsuit on behalf of 7,000 Just Energy sales agents claims the business with operations across North America and the United Kingdom “unjustly enriched” itself by misclassifying its salespeople as independent contractors. That, the suit alleges, allowed it to make significant savings on things like basic pay, overtime, and EI contributions — since only workers designated as employees are entitled to such workplace rights. The case has yet to be tested in court.
The issue of what defines an employee and who should be entitled to basic workplace rights is a live one: Ontario is in the midst of reviewing its employment and labor laws, which critics call outdated and ineffective. Among the recommendations made by labor groups is a government crackdown on misclassification by establishing a “reverse onus” on employee status — meaning all workers would be presumed to be employees unless their bosses can prove otherwise.
As previously reported by the Star, there has been significant momentum south of the border to tackle employee misclassification. At the Port of Los Angeles, hundreds of truck drivers are challenging their classification as independent contractors through the courts. The U.S. Department of Labor has signed agreements with multiple states to tackle employee misclassification, and recently issued legal guidance to clarify that most workers should be treated as employees under the law.
Click here to read the full article posted in the Toronto Star.
Contact our global team to find out more about misclassification and how CXC Global assists companies worldwide to implement compliant workforce strategies, thereby reducing their risk.
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