February 8, 2023
“Plaintiffs claim that the Salvation Army was the primary beneficiary of their relationship, and back that allegation up with details about how essential and beneficial their work was for defendant, the minimal value and effectiveness of the rehabilitation services they received, and the way in which their work prevented them from pursuing rehabilitation,” the judge wrote.
The Salvation Army must face wage-and-hour claims brought by participants in its residential adult rehabilitation programs after a federal judge in Illinois found the plaintiffs may be able to prove they were employees.
In a Jan. 31 opinion, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division denied the Salvation Army’s motion to dismiss a complaint alleging it has violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and related state wage-and-hour laws for years by failing to pay minimum wage to the plaintiffs, and others, who live and work in its adult rehabilitation centers.
The plaintiffs have alleged violations of the FLSA, Illinois Minimum Wage Law, and Michigan Workforce Opportunity Wage Act, arguing that they were employees of and performed work for the defendant.
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Counsel for the plaintiffs, Christine Elizabeth Webber of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll in Washington, D.C., said she and her clients “are grateful that the court in Illinois agrees that their claims may proceed.”
“Our clients—many of whom are unhoused, suffer from mental illness, or are overcoming addiction—have been taken advantage of in the name of ‘rehabilitation,’” Webber said, adding that Shah’s ruling ”brings us one step closer to holding the Salvation Army accountable for its predatory adult rehabilitation centers, which prey on vulnerable individuals.”
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