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AHS facing class-action lawsuit alleging workplace standards violations since 2013

An Alberta Health Services sign can be seen in this undated file photo. (File) An Alberta Health Services sign can be seen in this undated file photo. (File)

Alberta Health Services is being sued by a group of staff that claim the agency violated provincial employment standards for nearly a decade.

Clinical assistants (CAs) and clinical surgical assistants (CSAs) in the province say AHS has been overworking and underpaying them since 2013.

Clinical assistants, as defined by AHS, work with physicians to provide "acute care coverage" in a variety of medical settings. For CSA's, this includes surgical assistance and pre- and post-operative care.

Kahane Law Office has filed a class action lawsuit against AHS on behalf of hundreds of those workers.

The group is seeking $125 million in damages, claiming AHS violated the Employee Standards Code regarding overtime payments, rest periods and 12-hour work shift lengths.

"Since joining Alberta Health Services in 2017, I’ve routinely worked shifts lasting up to 24 hours, including during weekends and holidays," said Mena Salamh, a plaintiff in the suit. "What we are seeking is proper compensation for the time we have already worked."

The lawsuit claims AHS also failed to provide legislated breaks and violated overtime pay rules.

According to the suit, AHS told CAs and SCAs between 2013 and 2022 that they were exempt from receiving overtime pay.

When that decision was reversed in 2022, Kahane Law said the group was offered a retroactive lump-sum overtime payment. However that payment only went back four months and included a cap on hours.

"As the largest employer in Alberta, Alberta Health Services must know they continue to be in contravention of the law by denying these hard-working medical professionals fair pay and a safe working environment," said Ariel Breitman, lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

An amended statement of claim was filed on April 26. As of Wednesday, there were around 228 active class members.

CTV News Edmonton has reached out to AHS.