Strategic Financial Solutions and Others Hit With Unpaid Wages Suit

It was just ten days ago when I write about the employment suit against National Debt Relief and I said it seemed like the old settlement days when these sorts of cases were coming fairly regularly.

Well on June 17, 2016 another labor suit was filed against Strategic Financial Solutions, Pioneer Law Firm, The Law Offices of John Dougherty and Associates, Timberline Capital Ventures, Harbor Legal Group, The Law Offices of G. Anthony Yuthas, Credit Advocate Counseling Corp. Ryan Sasson is listed as the CEO of Strategic Financial Solutions and that’s a name that rings a bell. – Source

The suit was filed by Borrelli & Associates in New York City. The suit makes the following statements and allegations.

“Defendants employed Plaintiff as a “negotiator” from August 7, 2013 through January 2015, with the exception of a four month period during the latter half of 2014. As described below, for the entirety of Plaintiff’s employment as a “negotiator” save for that four month exception, Defendants required Plaintiff to work in excess of forty hours per week. However, Defendants failed to pay Plaintiff at any rate of pay, let alone at the statutorily-required overtime rate of one and one-half times her straight-time rate of pay, for all hours that she worked each week in excess of forty each week, thereby violating the FLSA and the NYLL.”


Defendant SFS, as comprised as the five entities described above, operates as a single employer that provides debt relief services to its consumer clients across the country. The five entity Defendants described above all: have an interrelation of operations in providing debt relief by sharing employees and clients with one another; concurrently control labor relations between employees and management; are commonly managed by the same personnel such as Bryan Dillard, Manager of Negotiations at SFS, and Christopher Wilson, also Manager of Negotiations at SFS; and are commonly owned and controlled financially.

On August 7, 2013, Kim Celic, SFS Director of Human Resources, hired Plaintiff to work as a negotiator for one of SFS’s then-affiliated entities “Legal Helpers.” In early July 2014, Defendant SFS reassigned Plaintiff to Defendant Pioneer, where Plaintiff continued working as a negotiator until January 2015, with the exception of a four month period when Plaintiff was on maternity leave from July 29, 2014 through October 2014.

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Throughout her time working for Defendants as a negotiator, regardless of the entity to which Defendants formally assigned her, Plaintiff’s duties consisted of assisting Defendants’ attorney-employees by speaking with Defendants’ clients and their respective creditors to communicate offers to settle the clients’ debts.

From the beginning of her employment through January 2015, Defendants required Plaintiff to work five days a week, from Monday to Friday, for shifts of between nine and eleven hours per day, with a one hour lunch break. However, during many days, Defendants did not allow Plaintiff to take her one-hour lunch break. Thus, Defendants required that Plaintiff work between forty-five and fifty hours each week.

For example, during the week of January 27, 2014 through February 2, 2014, Defendants required Plaintiff to work, and Plaintiff did work approximately fifty-two hours, from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday, while only taking an uninterrupted one-hour lunch break during, at most, three of those days.

For her pay each week, including the week described in the prior paragraph, Defendants paid Plaintiff a flat salary of $33,500.00 that was meant to cover only her first forty hours worked per week, and which amounts to a straight-time rate of $16.11 per hour.

Throughout her employment, Defendants paid her nothing for her time worked each week in excess of forty hours, and thus failed to pay her at one and one-half her regular rate of pay, or $24.17, for all hours worked over forty each week.

Defendants paid Plaintiff on a semi-monthly basis.

On each occasion when Defendants paid Plaintiff, Defendants intentionally failed to provide Plaintiff with a wage statement that accurately listed her actual hours worked for that week and/or her straight and overtime rates of pay for all hours worked.

Defendants also intentionally did not provide Plaintiff with a wage notice at the time of her hire that accurately contained, inter alia, Plaintiff’s rates of pay as designated by Defendants.

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Defendants treated Plaintiff, FLSA Plaintiffs, and Rule 23 Plaintiffs in the manner described above.

Each hour that Plaintiff, FLSA Plaintiffs, and Rule 23 Plaintiffs worked was for the Defendants’ benefit.

Defendants acted in the manner described herein so as to maximize their profits while minimizing labor costs and overhead.”

You can read the suit below.

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It appears from the suit that the intent is to make this a class action suit to include other similarly situated current and past employees. It appears the intent is for employees to be compensated for overtime worked but not compensated for.

I’m sure there is a perfectly good reason why debt relief companies just don’t make their employees whole to prevent these things from going to court. It escapes me why.

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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