The class-action filed in 2020 by a former investment adviser is allowed to proceed to court

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A class action lawsuit alleging unpaid vacation and holiday pay by RBC Dominion Securities Inc. has been allowed to proceed in an Ontario court.

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The suit alleges RBC Dominion Securities, one of Canada’s largest investment and wealth management firms, failed to pay vacation and public holiday compensation to employees earning commissions, such as investment advisers, associates and assistants.

In an email statement, parent company Royal Bank of Canada said it believes that all its advisers have received their statutory vacation and holiday pay.

“RBC takes the allegations seriously and ensures that everyone who works at any RBC company is fairly compensated and we will be defending ourselves,” the bank told the Financial Post.

The lawsuit against the Royal Bank of Canada subsidiary seeks damages of up to $800 million. It was certified as a class proceeding by Justice Edward Belobaba of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Dec. 29, a procedural step and not a ruling on the merits of the case. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court.

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The proposed class action seeks to include RBC Dominion Securities employees from across Canada except British Columbia and Alberta, which have laws that exclude them from vacation and holiday pay requirements.

Leigh Cunningham, a former investment adviser with RBC DS, brought the suit forward on July 9, 2020.

“The class membership will cover a significant period of time,” David O’Connor, one of the lead class counsels said in an email. Law firms Roy O’Connor LLP, Cavalluzzo LLP and Whitten & Lublin PC will represent the class members with Daniel Lublin and Stephen Moreau as co-lead counsels along with O’Connor.

The lawyer said they’ve requested and the court will adopt “ultimate limitation periods,” depending on the province or territory.

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“In Ontario, for example, the ultimate limitation period is 15 years and accordingly, Ontario employees who worked at RBC DS as far back as July 2005 will be included in the class,” O’Connor said.

Under relevant provincial legislation, employers are obligated to pay vacation and public holiday pay on all wages earned, including variable income such as commissions. The class action alleges commissioned investment advisers and their associates and assistants were “improperly underpaid” when the company failed to pay additional vacation and statutory holiday pay on top of their commissions or variable income.

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Employers are also required to record and report the calculation and payment of vacation and public holiday pay for employees. The lawsuit alleges RBC Dominion Securities failed to do so.

Last week, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging systemic unpaid overtime of retail branch employees. The Toronto-based bank will pay a total of $153 million to compensate about 30,000 current and former front-line retail staff for alleged unpaid overtime.

The class action, filed in 2007 by the law firm Roy O’Connor LLP, alleged CIBC failed to pay its branch customer service employees for overtime work since 1993.

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