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NEW DEVELOPMENTS (MARCH 25, 2024):

On March15, 2024 a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice  approved a 33 million dollar settlement of the employment wages class action brought by former major junior hockey players in the OHL.  You can read the decision here - https://canlii.ca/t/k3hdd.  The judge found that after 10 years of hard fought litigation the settlement should be approved. He observed "this has been a hard - fought case" resulting in a "good settlement"  in circumstances where" the "litigation risk was extraordinarily high”.  He concluded that "the settlement is without a doubt fair, reasonable and in the best interest of all of the Class members".

Status of the Settlement/When will I get paid?

There are about 4,200 former major junior hockey players in the three leagues who are eligible to make a claim.  The payout is estimated to be in the range of $8000-$12,000 per player for those players who played the average of 2.34 seasons while players who played more seasons would potentially recover more and those who played less would recover less.

Before players can make a claim it is necessary for the settlement to also be court approved in the WHL and the QMJHL. The approval hearing in Quebec was in the process of being scheduled when two former players who are opposed to the settlement, Mr. Thomas Gobeil and Mr. Lukas Walter filed an appeal from a court decision declining to remove class counsel as the lawyers for the players.  The appeal is scheduled to proceed in the Quebec Court of Appeal on June 14, 2024.

If you are one of the 4200 eligible players you cannot get paid until Mr. Gobeil and Mr.Walters appeal is decided and a judge approves the settlement in Quebec.  If the settlement is not approved then the litigation will resume in all three cases - the WHL ,OHL and the Q as if the matter was never settled.  If that happens it will likely take years before the litigation is over and there is no guarantee the players will win.

UPDATE: 

The continuation of the settlement approval hearing scheduled for September 25, 2023 did not take place.  We will post an update once we have a new date for the continuation of the settlement approval hearing.

CHL Class Action

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UPDATE:

Please be advised the parties have agreed on a revised release which is set out in the amendment to the settlement agreement which can be accessed here.  The settlement approval hearing will continue on September 25, commencing at 10:00 AM EST before the Alberta, Ontario and Québec courts by way of a virtual hearing.  Once we have the Zoom link, it will be posted here. For more information, please contact us or contact the Plaintiff counsel acting in your jurisdictionAlberta and Ontario: Charney Lawyers PC, info@charneylawyers.com,  Golblatt Partners LLP, jmandryk@goldblattpartners.com; Québec: Savonitto & Ass. Inc., info@savonitto.com

SETTLEMENT OF THE CLASS ACTION

ONTARIO, ALBERTA AND QUEBEC COURTS ISSUED DECISIONS DECLINING TO APPROVE THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

On October 22, 2020, the Ontario, Alberta and Quebec courts issued decisions declining to approve the Settlement Agreement agreed to by the parties following a mediation in the three class actions involving the OHL, WHL and QMJHL. Each judge, in separate reasons, held that the settlement was not in the best interests of the class members - solely because they each found that the scope of the Release in the Settlement Agreement was overbroad and could extend to claims other than claims that had been raised in the actions.

Each judge gave a strong indication that they would have approved the Settlement Agreement but for the wording of the Release. They even advised the parties that if agreement could be reached on a revised Release which was more narrowly worded so as to clearly apply only to claims like the claims raised in the actions, the motion for approval of the Settlement Agreement with the revised Release could be made in writing, with no necessity for another hearing or notice being given as had been given for the earlier settlement approval hearing.

As a result of the courts’ decisions, and unless the parties can reach an agreement on a properly worded Release, the Settlement Agreement can be terminated within 30 days of the courts’ decisions by either the plaintiffs or defendants. If the Settlement Agreement is terminated, the three class actions will resume at the stage they were at before the mediation, moving eventually to a trial or motion for summary judgment.

This website will be updated if the parties are able to negotiate a properly worded Release and are able to resubmit the Settlement Agreement to the courts for approval, or if the Settlement Agreement is terminated and the actions are going to move forward.

You can read the decisions from the three courts below: 

Reasons for Decisions of Perell J. - Ontario

Reasons for Decisions of Hall J. - Alberta

Reasons for Decisions Corriveau JCS. - Quebec

SETTLEMENT APPROVAL HEARING

There will be a virtual hearing by WebEx commencing at 12:00 noon EST on September 15, 2020. The particulars about how to view the video hearing will be posted in the near future. To read the Notice of Settlement Approval Hearing, please click here

To read the Settlement Agreement please click here, and for the Distribution Protocol click here.

MAJOR JUNIOR HOCKEY CLASS ACTION SETTLES!

Employment class actions brought on behalf of thousands of major junior hockey players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL have settled. Today we are pleased to announce a 30 million dollar settlement to compensate eligible players. 

To view the Plaintiffs’ press release please click here, and for the joint press release here. If you would like to review the settlement agreement you may do so by clicking here.

FAQ

  1. Who is eligible to participate in the settlement?
    Class Members will be affected by the proposed Settlement. You are a “Class Member” only if you meet one or more of the following definitions
    1. you were a player of an OHL team located in Ontario owned and/or operated by one or more of the Defendants at some point between October 17, 2012 and November 15, 2018, or you were a player under the age of 18 on October 17, 2012, who has not opted-out of the Ontario Class Action; or
    2. You were a player of a WHL team located in British Columbia owned and/or operated by one or more of the Defendants at some point between October 30, 2012 and February 15, 2016, or you were a player of a WHL team located in British Columbia owned and/or operated by one or more of the Defendants under the age of 19 on October 30, 2012, who has not opted-out of the Alberta Class Action; or
    3. you were a player of a WHL team located in Alberta at some point between October 30, 2012 and January 1, 2020, or you were a player of a WHL team located in Alberta owned and/or operated by one or more of the Defendants under the age of 18 on October 30, 2012, who has not opted-out of the Alberta Class Action; or
    4. you were a player of a WHL team located in Manitoba owned and/or operated by one or more of the Defendants at some point between October 30, 2012 and December 15, 2017, or you were a player of a WHL team located in Manitoba owned and/or operated by one or more of the Defendants under the age of 18 on October 30, 2012, who has not opted-out of the Alberta Class Action; or
    5. you were a player of a team located in Saskatchewan owned and/or operated by one or more of the Defendants at some point between October 30, 2012 and April 29, 2014, or you were a player of a WHL team located in Saskatchewan owned and/or operated by one or more of the Defendants under the age of 18 on October 30, 2012, who has not opted-out of the Alberta Class Action; or
    6. you were a player member of a QMJHL team owned and/or operated by one of the Defendants in the Province of Québec at some point on or after October 29, 2011 and up to June 12, 2018 who has not opted-out of the Québec Class Action; or
    7. you were a player member of a QMJHL team operated by 9264-8849 Québec inc. operating under the name Groupe Sags 7-96 and/or Les Saguenéens in the Province of Québec at some point on or after November 5, 2011 and up to June 12, 2018 who has not opted-out of the Québec Class Action; or
    8. you were a player member of a QMJHL team owned and/or operated by one of the Defendants in the Province of New Brunswick at some point on or after October 29, 2012, and up to July 28, 2017 who has not opted-out of the Québec Class Action; or
    9. you were a player member of a QMJHL team owned and/or operated by one of the Defendants in the Province of Prince Edward Island at some point on or after October 29, 2012 and up to October 28, 2017 who has not opted-out of the Québec Class Action; or
    10. you were a player member of a QMJHL team owned and/or operated by one of the Defendants in the Province of Nova Scotia at some point on or after October 29, 2012 and up to July 4, 2016 who has not opted-out of the Québec Class Action.
  2. What happens next?
    If you are eligible to participate in the settlement, you should receive a Notice of Settlement Approval hearing. Further details will be posted on this website in the next 3-4 weeks. The settlement must be approved by the Court. We expect the Court to review the settlement at a settlement approval hearing in August/September 2020. If the settlement is approved, then further information will be made available to inform eligible players on the procedure to submit a claim.
  3. Are US teams included?
    No. The U.S. teams are not part of the settlement.

 

Status of QMJHL class action

ON JUNE 13, 2019, THE SUPERIOR COURT OF QUEBEC RELEASED ITS DECISION GRANTING AUTHORIZATION OF THE CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST THE QMJHL AND ITS CLUBS. A COPY OF THE COURT’S DECISION IS AVAILABLE ON THE COURT DECISIONS PAGE.

Status of OHL class action

ON APRIL 3, 2019, THE ONTARIO DIVISIONAL COURT RELEASED ITS UNANIMOUS DECISION ALLOWING THE PLAINTIFFS’ APPEAL AND CERTIFYING THE CLAIMS IN NEGLIGENCE AND CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE DEFENDANTS. A COPY OF THE COURT’S DECISION IS AVAILABLE ON THE COURT DECISIONS PAGE. CERTIFICATION OF THE OHL CLASS ACTION IS NOW FINAL.

Status of WHL class action

ON MAY 15, 2018, THE ALBERTA COURT OF APPEAL DISMISSED ALL APPEALS OF THE ORDER CERTIFYING THE WHL CLASS ACTION. A COPY OF THE COURT’S DECISION IS AVAILABLE ON THE COURT DECISIONS PAGE. CERTIFICATION OF THE WHL CLASS ACTION IS NOW FINAL.

Open letter to Premier Ford, Minister Tibollo & Minister Scott

IN EARLY NOVEMBER 2018, THE COMMISSIONER OF THE OHL SENT AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PREMIER OF ONTARIO AND A CABINET MINISTER, ASKING THEM TO AMEND THE EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS ACT, 2000 TO “CLARIFY” THAT JUNIOR HOCKEY PLAYERS ARE EXCLUDED FROM EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS PROTECTIONS. CLASS COUNSEL TAKE THE POSITION THAT THE ONTARIO COURTS ARE POISED TO PROVIDE THAT CLARIFICATION IF AND WHEN THE CLASS ACTION IS HEARD ON ITS MERITS. READ CLASS COUNSEL’S OPEN LETTER TO PREMIER FORD AND MINISTERS TIBOLLO AND SCOTT ON BEHALF OF THE REPRESENTATIVE PLAINTIFF AND CLASS MEMBERS HERE.

Proposed class actions have been filed against the CHL, OHL, WHL, QMJHL, and every team in those leagues on behalf of former and current major junior hockey players.  If you are a former or current player who played between 2010 – 2019 for a Canadian CHL team, please register for the class action.

Charney Lawyers PC, a firm specializing in class actions, has filed the lawsuits on behalf of former CHL players. Major junior hockey is big business, generating revenues for the teams, while the devoted young hockey players who work their hearts out do not get paid.  We want to change that.

Our position is that the Standard Player Agreement is actually an employment contract where the players agreed to provide services to the club. If this class action is certified, the Court will decide whether hockey players are employees. If we are successful, then eligible players would be entitled to receive minimum wage and overtime pay, just like other young people who work for businesses.

Hundreds of players, including from every team in the OHL, WHL and QMJHL, have registered to learn more about these class actions. You can  register by clicking here, and read about the number of players who have already registered here.

Introduction to the CHL Class Action

The CHL Class Action is actually three class actions: one in Toronto (against the CHL, OHL and OHL teams), one in Calgary (against the CHL, WHL and WHL teams) and one in Montreal (against the CHL, QMJHL and QMJHL teams).

The CHL oversees the three "major junior" hockey leagues in North America: the OHL, the WHL, the QMJHL. Most major junior hockey teams are "for profit" businesses.

Every CHL player must sign standard-form player agreements with his team, which is then approved by the league. Under these contracts, the players were remunerated as little as $35 per week. The players work on average 40 hours per week, and up to 65 hours per week during long road trips. This is well below minimum wage in every Canadian province and US state with a CHL team.

The class action claims that the players are employees. Therefore, the players are entitled to statutory minimum wages.

Updates on the CHL Class Action

March 2019: Divisional Court of Ontario unanimously allowed the plaintiffs' appeal and certified claims in negligence and conspiracy. Read the Court's decision here.

October 2016: Justice Hall of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench has ordered the defendant leagues and clubs to produce their financial records. Read the Court's decision here.

October 2016: Justice Hall of the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench has denied the defendants' application to strike the plaintiff's evidence.  Read the Court's decision here.

October 2016: Ted Charney appeared on the CBC to discuss players' entitlement to wages. Listen here.

September 2016: The plaintiff has brought a Court application seeking to have the WHL and OHL clubs disclose their financial records and tax returns. The application is to be heard in Calgary on October 7, 2016. To learn more, read this article by TSN’s Rick Westhead and watch his interview on CTV here.

July 2016: The Hockey News has published an article entitled, "Why it might be a good thing for junior teams to pay minimum wage – and be fewer of them" by Ken Campbell that supports paying major junior hockey players minimum wage. Read  the article here.

December 2015: The Walrus magazine has published a detailed article by Nicholas Hune-Brown on the CHL Class Actions entitled, "Hockey’s Puppy Mill: A former junior player takes the CHL to court." The article provides some background information and explains some of the key issues in the litigation.  Read the article here.

November 2015: The plaintiffs have updated their pleadings in the class actions against the OHL and WHL. The pleadings lay out the key allegations laid against the defendants. Read the OHL pleadings hereRead the WHL pleadings here.

August 13, 2015: Washington state legislators passed a law in May that gives Western Hockey League teams the legal right to avoid paying players minimum wage. According to government case files, this law was passed against the legal advice of the state's assistant attorney general who advised that players should probably be considered as employees, and thus receive protection under minimum wage laws. Read the report of TSN's Rick Westhead here.

February 24, 2015: The Plaintiff's Motion Record for Certification can be found here.

February 17, 2015: The Washington State Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor and the House Committee on Labor are considering amendments to labor legislation that would exclude the WHL teams in the State of Washington from minimum wage laws.  You can read the proposed Bills here and here. Charney Lawyers, on behalf of its clients, has made written submissions to the Senate Committee voicing opposition to the Bills. You can read Charney Lawyers' submissions to Washington State's Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor here.

October 20, 2014Click here to read the Press Release, dated October 20, 2014.

Am I Eligible to Participate in the CHL Class Action?

You are eligible to participate if any of the following apply to you:

  • Played for a team in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island after October 2012
  • Played for a team in British Columbia, New Brunswick or Nova Scotia after October 2011 at age 18, after October 2010 at age 17, or after October 2009 at age 16
  • Played for a team in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba or Prince Edward Island after October 2011 at age 18 or after October 2010 at age 17
  • Played for a team in Saskatchewan between October 2012 and January 2015
  • Played for a team in Saskatchewan between October 2011 and January 2015 at age 17 , or between October 2010 and January 2015 at age 16
  • Played for a team in Quebec after October 2011
  • Played for a team in Quebec after October 2010 at age 17, or after October 2009 at age 16
  • Played for a team in Pennsylvania after October 2010
  • Played for a team in Pennsylvania after October 2009 and age 17, or after October 2008 at age 16
  • Played for a team in Michigan, Oregon, Washington or Maine after October 2008
  • Played for a team in Michigan, Oregon, Washington or Maine after October 2007 at age 17, or after October 2006 at age 16

IMPORTANT NOTE:

This website is designed for general informational purposes. The site is not designed to answer specific questions about your individual situation or entitlement. Do not rely upon the information provided on this website as legal advice in respect of your individual situation nor use it as substitute for individual legal advice. If you want specific legal advice, come talk to us or hire another lawyer.

The information collected about potential class members will assist counsel in prosecuting the class action and assessing what damages were suffered by the class as a whole. Providing the information requested does not make you the client of Charney Lawyers PC. The court will ultimately decide who will be included as a class member.