TORONTO - Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) was loose with its record keeping when it came to extra work hours, resulting in many employees working time they weren't being paid for, says a lawyer for a woman who is suing the bank.
Louis Sokolov told an Ontario court hearing the class-action lawsuit over alleged unpaid overtime that Scotiabank has a duty to record and monitor all of the hours worked by its employees, and compensate them properly.
"This is an organization that keeps track of debits and credits to the penny," he said, implying that he saw no reason why the bank shouldn't be able to accurately monitor work hours.
"There's something of a disconnect between policy on lieu time and the direction on the ground," he added.
Sokolov represents Cindy Fulawka, who is heading the suit against the bank for about 5,000 employees working as personal or senior bankers, financial advisers and account managers for small businesses.
The suit, filed two years ago, includes any full-time sales staff who worked at bank's retail operations after 2000.
A lawyer for the bank has refuted the claims, and will present his case on Tuesday.
In documents filed with the court, Sokolov said the bank has a duty to control the hours worked by its employees and cannot just state that it doesn't allow overtime unless employees receive prior approval.
"Scotiabank cannot permit employees to work, and must take reasonable steps to prevent employees from working overtime hours that it does not wish or intend to compensate," the document said.
"An employer cannot refuse to compensate hours that it knows are being worked and does not take adequate steps to prevent or stop."
Sokolov told the court that his client is one of few Scotiabank branch employees with the ability to make a direct claim against the bank.
He says many Scotiabank workers would not pursue claims against their employer for fear of repercussions. They work for modest wages, are not unionized and have little job security, he added.
Shares in Scotiabank were up 16 cents to $48.63 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.