On April 13, 2023, Outten & Golden LLP, along with co-counsel, McGillivary Steele & Elkin LLP, Towards Justice, and the Student Borrower Protection Center, filed a class and collective action lawsuit against Smoothstack Inc., an employee-staffing agency based in McLean, Virginia. Smoothstack hires aspiring information technology (IT) professionals at the beginning of their career, trains them in coding, programming, and other IT skills through a 6-month training program, and places them to work for one of their corporate clients on assignments.
Plaintiff Justin O’Brien brings this case on behalf of himself and others similarly situated as a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and a class action under Virginia law, as well as an individual retaliation claim under the FLSA.
First, Plaintiff alleges that Smoothstack failed to pay workers the minimum wage, as Smoothstack does not pay its workers any compensation during the first 3 weeks of training. Plaintiff further alleges that Smoothstack failed to pay overtime compensation for all hours worked over 40 per week throughout the training period.
Second, Smoothstack requires its workers to sign an employment agreement on a take-it-or-leave-it basis that includes a Training Repayment Agreement Provision (“TRAP”). The TRAP obligates Smoothstack’s employees to bill 4,000 hours to Smoothstack’s clients. If a worker resigns or is terminated for cause before completing the 4,000-hour billable requirement, The employment agreement allows Smoothstack to require that worker to pay an astonishing penalty of $23,875 (or, in some cases, more). Plaintiff alleges that the TRAP is unconscionable and an unenforceable liquidated damages penalty under Virginia law, that it is an unlawful kick-back under the FLSA, and a violation of the FLSA’s requirement that all wages be paid “free and clear.”
Third, after Plaintiff brought these potential claims to Smoothstack’s attention, and attempted to engage in good-faith settlement negotiations, Smoothstack recalled Plaintiff from his job assignment and subsequently fired him. Plaintiff individually alleges that Smoothstack unlawfully retaliated against him in violation of the FLSA.
Current and former Smoothstack employees who completed Smoothstack’s training program and who signed the employment agreement may be eligible to be part of the lawsuit.
Please email Hannah Cole-Chu or call (202) 915-5810 for more information.
(*Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.)