Bookkeeper’s processing of unearned overtime an honest mistake: Court

Bookkeeper gave herself unearned overtime pay but her weekly hours weren't clarified by employer
|Canadian Employment Law Today

A British Columbia company should not have fired an employee for mistakenly claiming overtime to which she was not entitled, the British Columbia Court of Appeal has ruled.

Glenna Palidwor was the bookkeeper for Julian Ceramic Tile (JCT), in Burnaby, B.C., for 12 years. When she was hired, she believed her standard work hours were 35 hours per week and whenever she worked more than that, she would be entitled to overtime pay. Because it was her job to gather, collate and verify the company’s payroll data, whenever she worked overtime she processed her overtime payment herself.

However, JCT had intended her normal work hours to be 40 hours per week and was unaware that between January 2003 and April 2004, Palidwor had processed overtime pay for hours past 35 and less than 40 for several weeks. When the company discovered the mistake, the total overtime pay Palidwor had received above what she was entitled to during the 15-month period was $10,697.60. JCT felt Palidwor had fundamentally breached her employment contract and fired her.