Cohen Milstein represents participants in Salvation Army adult rehabilitation centers and adult rehabilitation programs (“ARC workers”), who perform labor in support of the organization as a condition of their enrollment, in three lawsuits alleging that The Salvation Army violated federal law and many states’ laws when it failed to pay minimum wage to ARC workers. These lawsuits seek to hold The Salvation Army liable for these wages as the ARC workers’ employer, and to permit ARC workers to join these cases (see below).
TO JOIN THIS LAWSUIT, CLICK HERE.
Thousands of vulnerable individuals—people who are unhoused or marginally housed, who are very poor, who have drug or alcohol addiction problems, who are entangled in the criminal justice system, and/or who suffer from mental illness—enroll in Salvation Army adult rehabilitation centers and adult rehabilitation programs (“ARCs”) each year. As a condition of their enrollment, these individuals must take part in “work therapy,” performing difficult labor in support of the Salvation Army’s operations, particularly its lucrative thrift stores. ARC workers haul heavy furniture, operate dangerous machinery, repair broken goods, and organize donations. If participants are unable to complete their assigned work, they are expelled from the program and its associated housing.
This work is performed for at least 40 hours per week, under the direction or control of Salvation Army employees, in exchange for wages starting as low as $1 a week and capping out at $20-$30 per week, as well as cramped communal housing, and food. ARC workers are not allowed to seek additional work outside of the Salvation Army to supplement their income. They are required to relinquish any government benefits, including food stamps, to the organization for the duration of their enrollment.
These putative collective actions, filed in federal courts in New York, Illinois and Georgia on March 9, 2022, allege that relevant territories of The Salvation Army, encompassing 38 states and thousands of ARC workers, violated federal law and many state laws when they failed to treat ARC workers as employees. The case further alleges that The Salvation Army violated federal law and many state laws by failing to pay ARC workers the federal minimum wage and certain state minimum wages for all hours worked.
The cases are styled: Michael Clancy, et al. v. The Salvation Army, Case No. 1:22–cv–01250, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois; Raymon Alvear, et al. v. The Salvation Army, Case No. 1:22-cv-00979-SEG, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia; and Robert Geiser, et al. v. The Salvation Army, Case No. 1:22-cv-01968-JMF, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.
Plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, and Rukin Hyland & Riggin LLP. The plaintiffs in the case filed in Georgia are also represented by Radford & Keebaugh.
On January 31, 2023, Judge Manish Shah of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued an order denying The Salvation Army’s motion to dismiss in one of the three similar class and collective actions, Clancy v. The Salvation Army, No. 1:22-cv-01250 (N.D. Ill.). In all three cases, the defendant Salvation Army corporation moved to dismiss the complaints, arguing that even accepting the allegations in the plaintiffs’ complaints as true, the plaintiffs had not alleged that they were The Salvation Army’s employees under the FLSA and relevant state laws. In Clancy, which addresses ARCs in the Central, or midwestern, United States, Judge Shah rejected all of The Salvation Army’s arguments for dismissal. Judge Shah found on the allegations in the Clancy complaint that all of the relevant considerations—whether the workers had an expectation of compensation, whether the employer or workers were the primary beneficiaries of the work, whether the workers were economically dependent on the employer, and whether the labor practice undermined minimum labor standards or resulted in unfair competition—“point in favor of a covered employment relationship” between the plaintiffs and The Salvation Army. Accordingly, Judge Shah denied the motion to dismiss, ordered The Salvation Army to answer the complaint, and opened discovery in the case.
Following a March 6, 2023 oral argument, on March 8, 2023, Judge Sarah E. Geraghty of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued an order denying The Salvation Army’s motion to dismiss in the second of the three similar class and collective actions, Alvear v. The Salvation Army, No. 1:22-cv-0979-SEG (N.D. Ga.). In Alvear, which addresses ARCs in the Southern United States, Judge Geraghty rejected all of The Salvation Army’s arguments for dismissal. Judge Geraghty found the Alvear complaint plausibly alleged employment with respect to all of the relevant considerations—whether the workers had an expectation of compensation, whether the employer or workers were the primary beneficiaries of the work, and whether a finding of employment would advance or hinder the FLSA’s purposes. Accordingly, Judge Geraghty denied the motion to dismiss and ordered The Salvation Army to answer the complaint.
On March 15, 2023, Judge Jesse M. Furman of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an order denying The Salvation Army’s motion to dismiss in the third of the three similar class and collective actions, Geiser v. The Salvation Army, No. 22-CV-1968 (JMF) (S.D.N.Y.). Judge Furman explained orally at a March 29, 2023 teleconference the reasons for his decision. After denying the motion to dismiss, he ordered The Salvation Army to answer the complaint.
Joining the Case
If you are or were an ARC worker and wish to join this case:
First, confirm that you were enrolled in a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center or Program in one of the states covered by this action:
- Eastern Territory: includes Connecticut, Delaware, northeast Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont
- Central Territory: includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
- Southern Territory: includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky (outside of northeast), Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, DC, and West Virginia
Next, confirm that you were enrolled in the ARC program within the last three years. Then, confirm you did not enroll in the ARC program to comply with a court order or condition of probation or parole.
Then click here to be directed to the DocuSign website. Once there, you will be prompted to enter your name and e-mail address. The system will direct you to complete a Consent to Join form. Review the form to ensure accuracy, then sign using a computer or your mobile phone. You must complete this form to join the lawsuit.
After you sign, DocuSign will make a copy of the form available to you for your records.
By signing the form, you will be consenting to join one or more of the lawsuits asserted against The Salvation Army and asserting your Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), claim against the Salvation Army to seek recovery of unpaid minimum wages. There is a three-year statute of limitations on your claim under the FLSA, and that statute of limitations will continue to run until you submit a consent to join form.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is This a Class Action? What Does that Mean?
These cases are potential collective actions under federal law and include potential class actions under certain state laws. Both class and collective actions provide a mechanism for a group of workers with similar claims to litigate those claims together in one case, and both require the Court’s approval, or certification, to proceed on a class or collective basis. We will be seeking certification in the near future. The federal collective action will only include individuals who consent to join the case, as described below. As described above, your statute of limitations on the federal minimum wage claims will continue to run until you submit a consent to join form.
Am I Eligible for the Federal FLSA Claim?
Did you perform work as part of a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center Program in one of the states above and earn less than the federal minimum wage? You may have a claim under federal law if you did so in the three years prior to submitting a Consent to Join form and if you attended the ARC program for reasons other than to comply with a court order or condition of probation or parole.
What About Retaliation?
The law prohibits your employer from retaliating against you for exercising your rights under the FLSA by joining a lawsuit. If you have any concerns about retaliation in connection with joining this lawsuit, please contact us immediately.
Do I Have to Pay Anything?
No. We are handling this case on a contingency basis, so we will only be paid if the lawsuit is successful in obtaining a settlement, final judgment, or award. Our payment is subject to approval by the Court, and will come out of that settlement, final judgment, or award.
I Have Other Questions. Who Can I Contact?
If you are interested in more information about this lawsuit, please contact Cohen Milstein via phone (202-408-4600) or email (SalvationArmycase@cohenmilstein.com).
You may also contact Cohen Milstein’s co-counsel, including Attorneys Gay Crosthwait Grunfeld (licensed to practice in CA); Michael Freedman (licensed to practice in CA); Priyah Kaul (licensed to practice in CA); and Sanford Jay Rosen (licensed to practice in CT and CA) of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, 101 Mission Street, 6th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105, phone: (415) 433-6830, or Attorney Jessica Riggin (licensed to practice in CA) of Rukin Hyland & Riggin LLP, 1939 Harrison St., Suite 925, Oakland, CA 94612, phone: (415) 421-1800.