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Alberta Overtime Case With Big Implications In Employment Law
Scheffler v Mourits Trucking Ltd., 2023 ABKB 139 (J.S. Little) is a case involving an overtime claim which was brought in front of the Court of King’s Bench. The dispute was originally decided by a master, but this was a hearing de novo in front of Justice Little where the Court allowed the overtime claim to stretch back beyond the 6 month period from the Employment Standards Code that some other cases have found is a mandatory limit.
This case is definitely a win for employees, and could potentially be very important in Alberta.
The following are the pertinent facts summarized by the Alberta Court of King’s Bench:
- The plaintiff employee Roger Scheffler worked for the defendant employer Mourtis Trucking
- The employee worked for the employer for a period of time that was unspecified in the judgment
- There was no employment agreement between the parties dealing with overtime
- The employee had worked 719 overtime hours over a period of time prior to filing his claim against the employer (The judgment does not specify the period, but we have to infer based on the rest of the judgment that this period covered more than 6 months but less than 2 years)
- The employee was paid his ordinary hourly rate for those 719 hours, but was not paid time-and-a-half as required under the Alberta Employment Standards Code, leaving him short over that period a total of $7,549.50
Analysis / Conclusion
The employer argued that the employee could only claim for unpaid overtime amounts which fell within 6 months of his termination of employment. The employer cited the Alberta Employment Standards Code itself, which does state that an employee can only make a claim under the Code for amounts within 6 months preceding the termination of employment. The employer also cited prior Alberta case law supportive of its position on the 6 month rule.
The Court disagreed.
Justice Little found that although the entitlement to overtime came from the Code, since this action was brought as a civil lawsuit (i.e. as opposed to in front of an officer under the Code), there was no 6 month restriction:
 I conclude, however, that while the Code establishes the right to overtime, it would be inequitable to constrain an employee’s recovery to the six month limit under the Code when an employee uses conventional litigation instead of the Code. In my view, the remedies and their restrictions prescribed under the Code apply only when an employee engages the resources and collection mechanism available under the Code.
 Section 90(3) of the Code restricts an employee’s claim for overtime to six months, but section 90(1) states that that relates to “[a]n order made under this Division”. Mr. Scheffler has not made this claim under that Division and therefore has not employed the resources and collection mechanism under the Code.
There have been other cases to similar effect in other jurisdictions (and in Alberta I believe), but there have been several cases with the opposite conclusion. This case is the most recent one in Alberta, and it hails from a Justice of the Court of King’s Bench, so it should have significant weight.
Bow River Law provides these regular legal blog articles for the purposes of legal education and research for the public and the legal profession. These articles should be considered general information and not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should speak to a lawyer directly.
Bow River Law is a team of knowledgeable, skilled and experienced lawyers handling employment law, human rights (discrimination) and labour law matters. Bow River Law is based in Calgary but we are Alberta’s Workforce Lawyers.