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Cineflix proposes settlement in class-action lawsuit with factual TV workers

The media company has reached a settlement agreement following a 2018 class action lawsuit from Toronto firm Cavalluzzo on behalf of workers.
September 27, 2021

Cineflix Media has reached a proposed settlement in the matter of a CDN$35-million class action lawsuit filed in 2018 on behalf of factual TV workers in Ontario, Canada.

The Canadian-headquartered production company has agreed to pay a total minimum of $1 million to class members of the lawsuit, according to a settlement that was filed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Monday (September 27).

The settlement includes a template collective agreement with CWA Canada and IATSE, with the unions releasing a joint statement about the proposed settlement on Tuesday (September 28). Cineflix Media has the option to sign the agreement by spring 2022. Realscreen sister publication Playback understands that according to the settlement, if Cineflix does not sign and implement the agreement, the monetary payment to class members will increase to $2.5 million.

According to IATSE and CWA Canada, the collective agreement features “big improvements including pay scales, overtime pay, vacation pay, holiday pay, meal breaks, travel time, health and safety requirements, and other provisions.” It would also mark the first collective agreement of its kind for the production industry in Canada.

The agreement is subject to court approval, with a settlement approval hearing expected to take place in December.

“Cineflix Media is pleased to be reaching a settlement agreement regarding the factual TV workers class claim served almost three years ago,” said Glen Salzman, co-founder and co-CEO, Cineflix Media, in a statement to Playback Daily. “We believe we have concluded an agreement which is fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of all parties.”

The class action lawsuit was filed by Toronto firm Cavalluzzo with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Oct. 5, 2018. According to the statement of claim, the lawsuit alleged that Cineflix Media violated Ontario’s Employment Standards Act by systematically classifying class members as independent contractors rather than employees and failed to compensate class members, also failing to advise class members of their right to compensation equal or above minimum wage, overtime pay or vacation and holiday pay. The suit also alleged that the prodco failed to ensure class members’ work hours were accurately monitored and recorded, and failed to compensate class members for all hours worked.

Class members were defined as “all non-managerial persons who, since 2000, worked or continue to work for the Cineflix Defendants in Ontario in pre-production, and/or production, and/or post-production job classifications.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of “hundreds of reality and factual TV workers,” according to a 2018 release from CWA Canada.

The factual productions named under the suit included Mayday and Property Brothers.

Cavalluzzo also filed a $35-million class action lawsuit against factual producer Insight Productions in 2020. The allegations, which have not been proven in court, similarly state that the production company classified class members as independent contractors, who were not informed of their entitlement to overtime and vacation pay or had their hours accurately monitored and reported.

The lawsuits came in the wake of the Fairness in Factual TV campaign, launched with CMG and CWA Canada, which advocates for fair pay and working conditions for factual workers. The campaign led to North American union IATSE announcing it would broaden its scope to represent unscripted workers in Canada.

Also, the news of a proposed settlement comes as the spotlight shines on labor relations in the entertainment industry in the U.S., with IATSE preparing for a strike vote after a breakdown in talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Among the issues cited by IATSE are residual rates paid by streamers and what the union terms as “excessively unsafe and harmful working hours.”

(By Kelly Townsend, Playback Daily. With files from Barry Walsh)

Image: Shutterstock

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