Appellate court dismisses claims against employment agencies

By David Kennedy 

Employment agencies are an important tool for many companies that lack large human resource departments and are also a valuable service for people that are seeking employment.

 
 David Kennedy handles admiralty, corporate transactions and business litigation for The Kennedy Law Firm. david@kennedylawers.com 

Recently, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s dismissal of a wage claim brought by employees who used the services of a Mobile, Ala.-based employment agency.

Jurich, et. al v. Compass Marine involved a money damage claim for seaman’s wages brought by three employees against an employment agency. Compass Marine matches qualified applicants with maritime jobs. In exchange, the employees agree to pay a fee out of their first several paychecks.

Compass Marine did in fact place the plaintiffs with jobs that the plaintiffs accepted, and the plaintiffs paid Compass Marine’s fee as provided for in the contract. There was no dispute that Compass Marine fully performed under the agreement and had placed the plaintiffs with jobs that the plaintiffs accepted.

Nonetheless, the plaintiffs contended that such an arrangement was illegal and non-binding on the employees.

The plaintiffs and their attorney attempted to gain class action status on behalf of all of Compass Marine’s former customers. The Federal District Court for the Southern District of Alabama denied the plaintiffs’ attempts to have the matter certified as a class action and dismissed the claims against Compass Marine on summary judgment, meaning without a trial.

The trial court noted that Compass Marine provided a valuable service to the plaintiffs and that the parties contract was binding and valid.

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision, thus making clear that employment agencies such as Compass Marine are acting within the law.

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