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Settlement reached in three major junior hockey class actions

May 15, 2020

Settlement reached in three major junior hockey class actions

A settlement has been reached in three Canadian Hockey League employment class actions. The class actions claimed that major junior hockey players in the CHL are employees subject to employment standards legislation, and not just student athletes.

The class actions were commenced by the regional leagues: Berg v. Ontario Hockey League, Walter v. Western Hockey League, and Walter v. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Inc. They were certified by the Courts in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, but no determination was made on the merits of the claims.

Following the filing of the hockey class actions, provincial governments amended employment standards legislation in each of the provinces in which the CHL teams operate. The amendments provided that major junior hockey players are not employees within the meaning of employment standards legislation. As a result, team owners now have no legal obligation to treat players as employees.

Earlier this year, after the last of the employment standards statutes had been amended, the plaintiffs entered into settlement discussions with the CHL and its member leagues and teams. The parties ultimately reached a settlement, which will be submitted to the various Courts for approval.

The settlement provides that the defendants will pay $30 million to the class. The money will be distributed to class members in accordance with the number of full seasons and half seasons they played in the leagues during the class period. In exchange, the class members will give the defendants a full and final release. This settlement, which is subject to approval by the Courts, will fully and finally resolve the hockey class actions.

Sam Berg and Lukas Walter, the two initial plaintiffs in these actions, had this to say about the tentative settlement:

“We launched these class actions to fight for the rights of the players and to make a positive change, and we’re proud of what these lawsuits and this settlement have achieved. While we can’t do anything about the legislative amendments exempting players from employment standards legislation across the country, this settlement will put millions of dollars into the pockets of the hardworking players and will make a real difference in their lives.”

GP’s Josh Mandryk adds:

“This settlement is a vindication of the plaintiffs.These class actions and this settlement would not have been possible without their courage to stand up for the players, and we’re proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish. In addition to the plaintiffs, Sam Berg, Lukas Walter, Travis McEvoy, Kyle O’Connor and Thomas Gobeil, we would like to thank those players who came forward to support these class actions by testifying in the proceedings, Daniel Pachis, Jeremy Gottzmann, and the late John Paul Chartrand.”

More details related to the proposed settlement are available at


Steven Barrett, Joshua Mandryk

Practice Areas

Civil Litigation, Class Action Litigation, Employment Law