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Canadian reality TV production firm facing $35 million class-action lawsuit

Suit alleges employment standard violations against firm behind Canadian versions of shows like Amazing Race, Big Brother


February 24, 2020
By Talent Canada Staff

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Photo: Grafissimo/Getty Images

A Toronto-based reality TV production company is facing a $35 million class-action lawsuit over alleged employment standards violations.

In a press release, the Communications Worker of America – Canada (CWA Canada) said the suit was filed in an Ontario court last Friday by law firm Cavalluzzo LLP.

“It claims Insight (Productions) owes hundreds of workers unpaid overtime, vacation pay and holiday premiums because of contracts that did not comply with Ontario’s Employment Standards Act,” it said. “It was filed on behalf of current and former employees and so-called independent contractors.”

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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Big name shows

Insight Productions is best known for producing Canadian versions of shows such as Amazing Race, Big Brother, and CBC’s Battle of the Blades.

“This part of the industry can no longer be some kind of isolated island where anything goes when it comes to work rules and pay,” said Denise O’Connell, an organizer with the ‘Fairness in Factual TV’ campaign.

CWA Canada said a similar lawsuit was filed about 16 months ago against Cineflix Productions. That suit is still before the courts, it said.

“In the weeks following the Cineflix lawsuit, many people contacted us with similar complaints about Insight,” said Sean Fitzpatrick, a lawyer at Cavalluzzo who has been assisting with union efforts to help factual TV workers. “We heard about very long workdays, six- and seven-day workweeks with no overtime, and no extra pay for holidays. We are putting the reality/factual TV industry on notice that it can no longer deny workers their basic employment rights.”