The for-profit college chain, Education Corporation of America (ECA), that went bust last week appears to have now not only abandoned their 19,000 students, but also the ECA employees.
The allegations by ECA employees are the schools dropped them like a hot potato. If a hot potato claim is not a legal claim, it should be.
The lawsuits say:
“This action is brought by former employees of Education Corporation of America (“ECA”) and its wholly owned subsidiaries Brightwood Career Institute, Brightwood College, Ecotech Institute, Golf Academy of America and Virginia College (collectively, “the ECA Subsidiaries”), who were terminated without proper legal notice, as part of, or as a result of, campus shutdowns and/or mass layoffs at various facilities (“Facilities”), including but not limited to, campuses located in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.”
One of the suits says, “Plaintiffs, and the members of the class they seek to represent, failed to receive proper advance notification of their terminations, in violation of the WARN Act and/or state wage and employee laws. Plaintiffs, and the members of the class they are seeking to represent, failed to receive payments owed to them under ECA’s compensation and benefit plans, actual payroll checks for payment of wages/salary, vacation benefits, deferred compensation and bonuses, including incentive bonuses, severance and retention bonuses, that were subsequently not honored or paid. The Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of themselves, and other similarly situated former employees who worked for Defendants and who were terminated without cause, as part of, or as the result of, campus closings ordered by Defendants and who were not provided 60 days advance written notice of their terminations by Defendants, as required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN Act”), 29 U.S.C. § 2101 et. seq.”
The second class action suit filed just the day before makes substantially the same claims.
I suspect the next action by ECA will be the completion of a corporate bankruptcy which will detail how far in the hole the company and colleges were.
At the end of the day the responsibility for both students, faculty, and employees all getting screwed has to rest on ECA corporate management who was unable or unwilling to make the hard decisions early to close things down while putting students and employees first.