$12M settlement approved in BMO Nesbitt Burns unpaid overtime class action suit

An Ontario Superior Court justice has approved a $12 million settlement in an unpaid overtime class action suit. Francis Vachon / File / The Canadian Press

A $12 million settlement in an unpaid overtime class action suit against BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. is now final after the appeal period expired Monday.

An Ontario Superior Court justice granted judicial approval for the settlement in July, putting an end to more than six years of legal proceedings claiming unpaid overtime on behalf of about 1,800 investment advisers who worked at Nesbitt between 2002 and 2016.

Justice Edwart Belobaba’s decision says the settlement “falls within a zone of reasonableness” and notes that this case is “a first for investment advisers.”

According to the judge’s decision, Nesbitt has already implemented an overtime policy for the six-month supervision period for investment adviser trainees, which Belobaba says represents “behaviour modification” as a result of the class-action lawsuit.

The lawsuit was launched in 2010 and was certified as a class action in 2013. It was scheduled to go to trial in April 2017, but Belobaba’s written reasons for the judicial approval say the parties settled in January.

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In addition to the settlement sum, Nesbitt will pay $500,000 in administrative fees.

Belobaba’s decision says that after legal fees, the lead plaintiff’s honorarium and 10 per cent levy to the Class Proceedings Fund, the settlement is about $7.8 million. Of that amount, $6.5 million is allocated for 705 trainee investment advisers and $1.3 million will go to 1,136 senior advisers.

Nesbitt cannot contest any class member’s entitlement to payment, and the amount each member will receive depends on the take-up rate.

Belobaba also approved a $10,000 honorarium for lead plaintiff Yegal Rosen, who worked as a Nesbitt investment adviser from 2002 to 2006. The judge says Rosen “participated in every step” of the legal proceedings over the last six years.

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