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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS A CLASS ACTION?

A class action is a type of lawsuit where a representative, or representatives, brings the lawsuit on behalf of a group of persons who have suffered a common problem. The outcome of the class action, whether good or bad, is binding on all of the members of the group known as the “class”.   Class actions were introduced to advance three objectives: (1) access to justice; (2) judicial economy; and (3) behavior modification, defined below.

 

Access to justice: class actions level the playing field, allowing people who might not be able to afford to bring a case or who might be intimidated by a formidable opponent to find strength in numbers and bring a case on a cost efficient basis.
 

Judicial economy: a class action makes more cost efficient use of court resources by bringing one big case instead of many smaller cases.

 

Behavior modification: the high impact of a class action can be effective in causing powerful entities to change their practices in order to avoid being sued.

WHAT IS A REPRESENTATIVE PLAINTIFF?

The representative plaintiff or plaintiffs, as is the case in this class action, leads and directs the class action on behalf of the group. Representative Plaintiffs are the only ones who must publicly disclose their identities and reveal information to the Government about their situations at this time. They instruct the lawyers about the case and must approve any settlement that is offered. The representative plaintiffs are not allowed to settle their personal claims at the expense of the class. In this case, we have filed the claim with 12 representative plaintiffs.

WHAT IS A CLASS MEMBER?

A class member is a person who is covered by the class action. Everyone who is included in the class definition that is contained in our Statement of Claim is automatically a class member. They remain a class member unless they decide to opt-out when the time comes to do that. Our class definition reads as follows:

 

“Class Members” include, without limitation, all Black individuals who are, or were, employed or provided services to the federal public service, whether by contract, full-time, part-time, or by any other means of engagement, within the past fifty (50) years (“Class Period”).

WHO IS INCLUDED?

Everyone who is included in the class definition set out above is AUTOMATICALLY included at this time. Important: The initial claim was filed on behalf of Black workers in the departments and agencies listed above. However, we are seeking representative plaintiffs for all federal departments and agencies. Please click join us and complete your information so that we can include Black workers from all federal departments and agencies. 

WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN A CLASS ACTION?

Like any lawsuit, a class action starts with the filing of a Statement of Claim. In this case, there had been three prior actions filed by various law firms. We, the law firms, agreed to join forces, and have since issued one new unified Statement of Claim in the Federal Court in Montreal and to put the earlier separate actions on hold. We are now in settlement negotiations. At the same time, we will ask the Federal Court to appoint a judge to case manage the class action.

 
The next step in the class action process would normally be certification. Because the class action has the effect of binding the whole group, the Court must approve or certify the class action before it can proceed as a class action.

 
If the class action is certified, there will be a notification process to potential class members. At that time, the Court will approve a process whereby class members can decline to participate by “opting out” of the class action.

 
Once the Statement of Claim has been issued, the case has been certified, and class members who choose to do so have opt-ed out, the case will then proceed through the normal Court process through discovery, pre-trial and trial. However, the trail is limited to what are called the “common Issues”, that is, the issues that affect all class members. Typically the “common issues trial” will resolve an issue that could result in entitlement for class members. For example, in the Hislop case the judge found that restrictions on Canada Pension Plan (“CPP”) survivor’s pensions for same sex couples were discriminatory. It is frequently the case that following the common issue trial each individual class member still has to go through further steps in order to receive individual compensation. For example, in the Hislop case, survivors still had to apply for the pension, and to establish that they had been in a common law relationship with a deceased person that had paid CPP premiums.

 
After a successful trial there can be appeals. In the Hislop case, although the case was successful at trial, the Government appealed the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

WHAT IS A REPRESENTATIVE PLAINTIFF?

The representative plaintiff or plaintiffs, as is the case in this class action, leads and directs the class action on behalf of the group. Representative Plaintiffs are the only ones who must publicly disclose their identities and reveal information to the Government about their situations at this time. They instruct the lawyers about the case and must approve any settlement that is offered. The representative plaintiffs are not allowed to settle their personal claims at the expense of the class. In this case, we have filed the claim with 12 representative plaintiffs.

WHO ARE WE SUING?

We are suing the Federal government of Canada for the wrongful failure to promote Black employees in the Public Service, and for unjustly subjecting Class Members to the systemic, unlawful practice of Black employee exclusion.

DO I HAVE TO BE A CURRENT EMPLOYEE OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE TO BE INCLUDED IN THIS SUIT?

No, you do not have to be a current employee of the Public Service to be included in this Class Action lawsuit. The Class includes all Black individuals who at any time during the Class Period worked for Canada as part of the Public Service under Schedule “A” since 1970 up until and including the time of the trial of the common issues.

 

The Class also includes all individuals who, by reason of relationship with the Class Member, are entitled to assert a claim pursuant to the Family Law Act – or to the comparable legislation in your province or territory.

 

The best way to find out if you qualify to be included in this Class is to join through the link below:

 

https://www.blackclassaction.ca/join-us

 

We will be screening all contact information forms over the coming weeks and reaching out to assess eligibility and to gather additional information as needed.

 

We appreciate you coming forward.

I RESIGNED AND LEFT MY JOB VOLUNTARILY. AM I INCLUDED?

If you resigned for reasons related to racial discrimination, you may qualify to join the Class. It is not uncommon for Class Members to resign due to a poisoned work environment.

 

We encourage anyone with qualification questions to submit a contact information form through the link below:

 

https://www.blackclassaction.ca/join-us

 

We will be screening all contact information forms over the coming weeks and reaching out to assess eligibility and to gather additional information as needed.

WHAT IF I AM A STUDENT WITH THE FEDERAL STUDENT WORK EXPERIENCE PROGRAM (FSWEP)? AM I INCLUDED?

Yes. Students who have worked with FSWEP may qualify to join the claim. We encourage you to sign up through the link below:

 

https://www.blackclassaction.ca/join-us

 

We will be screening all contact information forms over the coming weeks and reaching out to assess eligibility and to gather additional information as needed.

 

We appreciate you coming forward.

HOW DO I JOIN THE MOVEMENT?

To join the Black Class Action, please register through the link below:

 

https://www.blackclassaction.ca/join-us

 

We will be screening all contact information forms over the coming weeks and reaching out to assess eligibility and to gather additional information as needed.

 

We appreciate you coming forward.

IF I JOIN WILL MY IDENTITY BE KEPT A SECRET?

Yes. All communications with Class Members are strictly confidential – this includes information provided on the contact information form – even if you are later determined to be ineligible. By joining, you are entitled to “solicitor-client privilege”. We will never reveal your identity without your prior express consent.

WHAT EVIDENCE DO I NEED TO PROVIDE TO PROVE MY CLAIM?

For now, you will only need to provide the information detailed in our contact information form / questionnaire which can be found at:

 

https://www.blackclassaction.ca/join-us

 

However, we encourage you to start thinking about any documentation or evidence in your possession which relates to your case and may support our claim. We kindly ask that you refer to this evidence when detailing your experience on the form. We will be screening all contact information forms over the coming weeks and reaching out to assess eligibility and to gather additional information as needed.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO RESOLVE THIS LAWSUIT?

While it is difficult to ascertain a timeline, it is not uncommon for Class Action lawsuits to stretch beyond a year or two – maybe even more. The timing is largely dependent on several factors which are difficult to predict, especially in today’s climate.

We will provide regular updates regarding the timeline as they become known.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT TO GET OUT OF MY PARTICIPATION AND WHEN WILL I GET IT?

If the claim is successful, there will be an assessment of damages. This assessment will largely depend on individual circumstances as well as the amount of damages recovered.

HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST ME?

There is no cost to class members. Joining is free and eligibility will be assessed and determined on a case-by-case basis.

We encourage you to join at:

 

 https://www.blackclassaction.ca/join-us

 

We will be screening all contact information forms over the coming weeks and reaching out to assess eligibility and to gather additional information as needed.

I APPLIED FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE BUT WAS NEVER HIRED - DO I QUALIFY?

Depending on the circumstances, you may still qualify. We encourage you to join us at:

https://www.blackclassaction.ca/join-us

 

Please provide sufficient details about the hiring process. We will be screening all contact information forms over the coming weeks and reaching out to assess eligibility and to gather additional information as needed.

I AM NOT A BLACK PUBLIC SERVICE WORKER, BUT I WANT TO HELP. HOW CAN I HELP?

There are a number of ways you can help support the Black Class Action as a non-joiner. We encourage you to follow us on social media, share our posts and news clips, drive traffic to our website and donate to our Go Fund Me.

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