Patterson Harkavy and co-counsel, the NC Justice Center and Outten & Golden LLP, filed a class and collective action lawsuit on behalf of individuals struggling to overcome substance abuse and addiction who assert that they were exploited by a local recovery center for unpaid labor.
According to the suit, Recovery Connections Community has escaped public oversight and accountability for years as it profited from unpaid labor performed by individuals seeking treatment at its facilities throughout North Carolina. Operating under the guise of a residential substance abuse recovery support provider, Recovery Connections Community required its residents to work many hours—often as many as 16 hours per day—at local businesses, and then pocketed their wages, according to the complaint. Instead of providing substance abuse treatment, training, and support, as the program claims to do, Recovery Connections Community profits off the unpaid labor of its residents, the suit alleges.
“The people who run Recovery Connections Community have been stealing from their own patients for years,” said Clermont Ripley, a staff attorney with the NC Justice Center. “It’s time for them to pay back all those wages to the plaintiffs and other like them and to stop profiting off of selling their labor.”
Residents are required to work for various entities and individuals associated with Recovery Connections Community and third-party businesses that contract with the program for residents’ labor, including local restaurants and adult care homes, the complaint alleges. The businesses pay Recovery Connections Community a negotiated rate for the labor pool’s work.
“These businesses are complicit in Recovery Connections’ actions,” said Narendra Ghosh, attorney with Patterson Harkavy LLP. “They benefited from this scheme by receiving access to a pool of sub-market rate labor performed by residents, while knowing full well that their workers were being denied any sort of compensation.”
The case, Presson v. Recovery Connections Community, et al, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, alleges that Recovery Connections Community and the third-party employers violated federal and state wage and hour laws, among others, by failing to pay program participants for their work.
“Patients seeking substance abuse treatment are in a vulnerable state that makes them particularly susceptible to abusive practices,” said Outten & Golden attorney Melissa Lardo Stewart. “These employees deserve—as much as any worker—to be paid a fair wage for their work.”