In the latest chapter of the Firm’s long running crusade against corporate abuse of working class Americans, Pollard PLLC is suing the Florida-based private security company Critical Intervention Services (“CIS”) for wage theft in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).
The Beginning: A Security Guard Non-Compete Case
The case arises out of Michael Kenny’s brief employment with CIS. All told, Mr. Kenny, a military veteran and single father, worked at CIS for less than three weeks. The majority of that time was spent in unpaid training. Mr. Kenny was assigned a night-shift work schedule. Unable to find overnight childcare, Mr. Kenny asked CIS to change his shift. CIS refused and told him to either work his assigned night schedule or find another job.
Mr. Kenny found another job working as a security guard for a company called Securitas. He was assigned to a security desk at a bank. Things were looking up for Mr. Kenny until CIS got him fired from his new job. After learning that Mr. Kenny was working as a security guard elsewhere, CIS sent a cease and desist letter to Mr. Kenny’s new employer threatening a non-compete lawsuit. Although Mr. Kenny was a security guard making less than $12 an hour, had prior military experience, and did not even spend a whole month at CIS, the company insisted he had an enforceable non-compete agreement. Securitas immediately terminated Mr. Kenny.
CIS: A History of Non-Compete Abuse and “Agreed Injunctions”
Upon learning of Mr. Kenny’s ordeal, the Firm immediately stepped in to represent Mr. Kenny and filed a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment the non-compete unenforceable and holding CIS liable for tortious interference. Rather than recognize that Mr. Kenny posed no threat to them, CIS escalated matters. CIS countersued Mr. Kenny for breach of the non-compete agreement and demanded $50,000 in liquidated damages. CIS’s lawyers, the Tampa-based Solomon Law Group, insist that the non-compete agreement is enforceable. Both CIS and its attorneys have repeatedly maintained that CIS has won prior non-compete cases, proving that its non-compete is valid.
But Pollard PLLC principal Jonathan Pollard says otherwise. According to Pollard: “CIS’s claim that it has won prior cases and proven the non-compete enforceable is not entirely accurate. CIS and its attorneys point to two prior cases. In those cases, the defendants caved and agreed to settlements that contained consent injunctions. CIS’s attorneys wrote those orders and injunctions. They were agreed orders with no opposition. Those are not orders that the court actually wrote itself. And those are Florida trial court orders, untested on appeal, and with no precedential value. CIS has never succeeded in enforcing a non-compete agreement in this specific context and it never will.”
The Federal Lawsuit: Unpaid Wages and FLSA Violations
As the case progressed, certain facts came to light during discovery that added insult to injury: Not only was CIS holding a non-compete over Mr. Kenny’s head and suing him for $50,000 in liquidated damages, CIS had also failed to pay Mr. Kenny minimum wage for the time he spent in training. CIS also sent Mr. Kenny to collections for certain supposed training expenses. After a thorough investigation into the facts and the relevant law, Pollard PLLC filed a separate lawsuit against CIS for unpaid wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, only this time in Tampa federal court. In the Firm’s opinion, the case raises important issues about companies requiring unpaid training time.
Only a few months into the federal action, CIS and its attorneys are already seeking a way out of the case. CIS recently filed a Motion to Stay, essentially complaining to the Court that Mr. Kenny and Pollard PLLC would not accept their settlement offer, and urging the Court to intervene, force a settlement that does not include a judgment or any admission of wrongdoing, and force the Plaintiff to accept a fraction of the attorneys’ fees incurred on the matter to date. Pollard sees little chance of Defendants’ motion succeeding. Quoting Pollard, “Defendants in FLSA cases often try to get out of the case without admitting liability and without paying the full amount of attorneys’ fees owed. CIS is not the first FLSA defendant to try this sort of strategy. Under current 11th Circuit law, their efforts will fail. If CIS wants out of this case, they can admit liability and offer us a judgment against them. At that point, we’re happy to let the Court determine a fee award. I’m well aware that there are many frivolous FLSA wage cases. That doesn’t apply here. This is a serious case.”
Pollard PLLC is a litigation firm committed defending people against corporate abuses and pursuing cases that serve the public interest. The Firm and its attorneys have significant experience litigating a wide range of employment and competition cases. Jonathan Pollard has appeared in or on the New York Times, PBS News Hour, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Guardian, and more. For more information, call 954-332-2380.