Kitchener-Waterloo

Kitchener driver says she left Loblaws after lack of overtime pay

Jennifer Goldup had high hopes when she became a truck driver at the Loblaws Cambridge distribution Centre in 2013.

Employment lawyer expects unions, workers and employers will take note of Loblaws case

Jennifer Goldup worked for Loblaws as a driver for five years, but quit her job in 2018 because she felt she wasn't compensated properly for overtime work. (Submitted by Jennifer Goldup)

Jennifer Goldup had high hopes when she became a truck driver at the Loblaws Cambridge distribution Centre in 2013.

The Kitchener woman had worked as a truck driver most of her adult life, but never for such a large company. She figured she'd stay there until retirement.

She says she ended up working 48 to 56-hour weeks without overtime, while taking care of her terminally ill husband.

By September 2018, she hit a breaking point. She decided to quit her job. 

Goldup says lack of overtime pay was one of the reasons.

"It became so toxic and so depressing and miserable that you can't stand to go to work anymore," said Goldup. 

"The environment is so tense because you know they weren't paying overtime," said Goldup.

Last year, an arbitrator found Loblaws violated Ontario's Employment Standards Act for not paying drivers overtime after the required 44 hours a week.

The company has not yet paid the back wages or changed the way it compensates its drivers.

Loblaws has challenged the ruling. It filed a judicial review and is waiting for a decision by the Ontario Divisional Court.

In a statement to CBC News, Loblaws says it has calculated the disputed overtime money and is paying it into a trust account as it awaits the court decision.

'We're worth it'

Max Bauer, who practices employment law at Morrison Reist Krauss in Kitchener, says he often sees violations under Ontario's Employment Standards Act.

The legislation sets out the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers in most Ontario workplaces.

"On a daily basis, I see violations of the Employment Standards Act when people come in. It could be something as simple as calculating someone's vacation pay when they're terminated," said Bauer.

Bauer expects employers will take note of the Loblaws case.

"Proactive employers are going to look at this case and say 'oh look look what we're doing, this is very similar, maybe we need to review this and address anything that's offside," said Bauer.

As for unions and employees, he hopes it will "empower people to ask questions."

Goldup says she's glad she left Loblaws last year. She says she works as a truck driver for another company now where she hasn't encountered the same problems. Her message for Loblaws remains the same.

"Pay [drivers] overtime. I think we're worth it."