Revealing the Truth: Smoothstack Lawsuit 2024 Updates and Controversial Training Program

Revealing the Truth: Smoothstack Lawsuit 2024 Updates and Controversial Training Program
Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan / Unsplash

The claims made in the Smoothstack lawsuit and the associated dispute over employee repayment arrangements are explained in this article.

A legal dispute that has recently shook the tech sector concerns Smoothstack, a staffing and training company operating in the sector.

Repayment agreements, which are employment contracts at the center of the allegations, have been in the news and have angered state and federal officials.

The Smoothstack case was filed in 2023, but it hasn't finished yet. But what does the lawsuit claim, and who is Smoothstack?

We'll go over Smoothstack's background, what made them well-known, and the most recent developments about the lawsuit in this post.

What is the issue with Smoothstack, then? Is this training program a fantastic way to start a career in technology? Perhaps it seems too wonderful to be true? Let's investigate more closely.

Company Background of Smoothstack

The IT staffing company Smoothstack is well-known for its training courses that lead to positions in significant tech firms. However, Justin O'Brien, a former employee, has launched a class action complaint alleging the corporation engages in unfair practices, including the abusive use of "Training Repayment Agreement Provisions" (TRAPs).

Offering a training program and job placement options with the company's clients—which include Fortune 500 organizations like Accenture, Bloomberg, Capital One, Johnson & Johnson, Morgan Stanley, and Verizon—Smoothstack draws in recruits.

One prominent player in the tech space is Smoothstack, which staffs consultants at numerous large tech companies. In addition, Accenture recently awarded Smoothstack a subcontract for more than $80,000,000 to support that business's work for the Office of Federal Student Aid of the U.S. Department of Education.

However, the business has faced criticism for its contentious Training Repayment Agreement Provision, or TRAP for short.

A class action lawsuit filed against the corporation claims that if Smoothstack IT personnel fail to fulfill a minimum billable hour requirement before quitting the program, they will be subject to a fine exceeding $20,000.

Smoothstack: What is it?

Let's first discuss the functions of Smoothstack:

  • Those looking to begin jobs in IT are recruited by them.
  • They provide a course to teach technological skills.
  • They place people in positions with major corporations such as Verizon and Accenture.
    Thus far, it sounds fairly good, right? There's a catch, though. You must execute rigorous contracts in order to participate in the Smoothstack program. And that's when the issues arise.

TRAP: What is it?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines a training agreement provision (TRAP) as "a type of liquidated damages provision in which the worker agrees to pay the employer for the employer's training expenses if the worker leaves their job before a certain date."

In January 2023, the Federal Trade Commission suggested "preventing employers from entering into non-compete clauses with workers and requiring employers to rescind existing non-compete clauses." TRAPs are referred to as "restrictive employment covenants" in the context of the FTC's proposed rule-making. These covenants can occasionally be so expansive that they resemble non-compete agreements.

The US economy is significantly impacted by TRAPs. Research indicates that about 10% of American workers have a TRAP in place. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission "estimates that the proposed rule would increase American workers’ earnings between $250 billion and $296 billion per year."

Additionally, state legislators in states like Pennsylvania and California are moving to outlaw TRAPs.

The following are the main details regarding Smoothstack's TRAPs:

Criteria: Finish 4000 hours of labor that can be billed to Smoothstack clients.

Penalty: If you leave or are fired before the 4000 hours, you must pay $23,875 in penalties.

What to Know About Smoothstack Lawsuit?

What then is at issue with the Smoothstack lawsuit? A class action complaint was launched in April 2023 in federal court in Virginia by a former employee. The case aims to recover damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and to invalidate the TRAPs that Smoothstack employees are compelled to sign.

In particular, the complaint against Smoothstack "seeks unpaid wages and damages. . . for minimum wages, overtime wages, unlawful kickbacks on wages, and violation of the FLSA’s requirement that employers pay their workers wages 'free and clear.'"

Some grave allegations concerning Smoothstack's program are made in the lawsuit:

  • Trainees must put in up to 80 hours a week of work.
  • They receive no payment from Smoothstack for the first three weeks.
  • They receive only minimum wage after that and no overtime compensation.
  • Consultants earn $26-$31/hour in assignment and minimum wage.
  • TRAPs are offered with no conditions attached.
  • After training, consultants are under pressure to remain with Smoothstack.
  • They will be subject to a significant penalty if they leave before charging 4000 hours.

The lawsuit's principal grievances are:

  1. The TRAPs used by Smoothstack are void and forbidden.
  2. Smoothstack violates regulations pertaining to overtime and minimum wage.
  3. The TRAPs' fines are unlawful "kickbacks."

Essential Details about Smoothstack Lawsuit

Former Smoothstack recruiter and consultant Justin O'Brien is the primary plaintiff in the lawsuit against Smoothstack. He aspires to speak for himself as well as all other workers and previous workers in comparable circumstances.

On its website, the Student Borrower Protection Center describes itself as a "nonprofit organization focused on eliminating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans," and it is this group that filed the case.

As previously stated, the class action complaint was brought before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, a federal court. Both state and federal laws are allegedly violated in the Smoothstack case, with the Fair Labor Standards Act being the target of many of the main accusations.

Below graphic encapsulates the lawsuit:

Parties Concerned:

  • Lead plaintiff: Former Smoothstack employee Justin O'Brien

  • Defendants: Associated companies and Smoothstack


1. Inequitable Work Practices:

  • Wrongful termination claims stemming from workers' reluctance to sign training repayment agreements

  • Allegations that pressuring workers to labor after hours without getting paid

2. Unlawful Training Contracts:

  • Charges of using coercive and misleading methods to get staff members to sign up for the training program

  • Allegedly breaking labor regulations by charging hefty fines for premature termination

3. Lawsuit in Class Action:

  • Justin O'Brien is the representative of a prospective class of workers who feel that Smoothstack's policies have hurt them.

  • Pursuing class action lawsuits in order to obtain redress and damages for impacted workers

Latest Updates on Smoothstack Lawsuit.

As previously stated, the lawsuit was submitted in April 2023 against Smoothstack. The primary plaintiff consented to withdraw three of his lawsuit's allegations in May 2023.

Smoothstack consented to waive Mr. O'Brien's 4,000-hour requirement in exchange for him dismissing certain allegations made in the case under Virginia and federal law.

Smoothstack submitted a move to dismiss the lawsuit on May 12, 2023. The plaintiff filed an updated lawsuit on May 25, 2023, and Smoothstack responded with another move to dismiss on June 6.

On August 2, 2023, a hearing was scheduled to discuss the motion to dismiss.

More court battles are probably in store if the Smoothstack action is allowed to proceed beyond the move to dismiss. One major legal dispute pertaining to class action litigation, for example, is the question of whether the court should award class certification.

If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the case may also be settled by a settlement, which is the most typical result for cases in the United States, according to data.

There are several possible outcomes for this:

  1. The case can be dismissed by the judge.
  2. There may be discussions about turning the case into a class action as it proceeds.
  3. In order to avoid a drawn-out legal struggle, Smoothstack may choose to settle.

Whatever the outcome, Smoothstack's methods are being seriously questioned in light of this case. It might significantly affect the business. It may also result in modifications to the way the tech training sector as a whole functions.

The Final Word for Future IT Professionals

Knowing employment agreements and labor rules is essential if you're thinking about a job in the IT sector. Two of the most important things are making sure your workplace is fair and protecting your rights. The following are some crucial things to remember:

1. Study Employment Agreements: Go over the conditions of your employment agreement in detail before accepting any job offer. Terms pertaining to repayment plans, training courses, and any possible financial ramifications should be carefully read. Make sure the conditions are reasonable and clear.

2. Recognize Labor Laws: To ensure that you are aware of your rights as an employee, become familiar with the labor laws that apply to you. This covers laws pertaining to non-compete clauses, overtime compensation, and working hours. Knowing these laws will enable you to spot any possible infractions and take the necessary action.

3. Seek Legal Advice if Necessary: Don't be afraid to speak with an employment lawyer if you have doubts or issues regarding the legitimacy or equity of particular employment practices. They can guide you through difficult legal situations and offer insightful advice.

4. Exercise Caution When Selecting Training Programs: Although a lot of training programs provide excellent chances to improve your skills, exercise caution when selecting any program that has rigorous contracts or repayment schedules. Examine the agreements in more detail to see if they suit your long-term professional objectives and best interests.

5. Remain Educated and Lead the Change Movement: Stay abreast of labor regulations and any new laws that would improve worker protection. Participate in industry conversations and provide your support to initiatives that advance equity and constructive change.

By doing these things and being proactive about knowing your rights as an IT professional, you can set yourself up for success in the future and encourage a more robust and fair workplace culture in the tech sector. Always keep in mind that you should base your job decisions on what is best for you and consistent with your ideals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does a TRAP stand for?

A: The Training Repayment Agreement Provision is referred to as a "TRAP" in the context of the Smoothstack litigation. It is a contentious provision in the Smoothstack training contracts. The plaintiffs contend that this clause places unjust financial responsibilities on workers, compelling them to repay substantial sums of money in the event that they decide to quit the company before a predetermined amount of time has passed.

Q; How frequent are TRAP's?

A: TRAPs are common in the IT training sector and are not exclusive to Smoothstack. Prospective employees should carefully read their employment agreements and training contracts to understand any repayment responsibilities and the legality of such articles within their jurisdiction, even though not all training programs include such restrictions.

Q: What is the lawsuit's accusation against Smoothstack?

A: Smoothstack faces allegations of engaging in multiple unfair labor practices and unlawful training agreements. The plaintiffs allege that the business misled workers by promising them entry-level positions while subjecting them to a training program that served as a stepping stone to entry-level positions and offered little assurance of employment after completion.

Q: To whom is Smoothstack being sued?

A: Former worker Justin O'Brien is the primary plaintiff in the case; he is advocating for a proposed class action on behalf of other current and former Smoothstack workers. The plaintiffs in the case include people who claim they were the victims of dishonest training contracts and unfair labor practices.

Q: What's the status of the lawsuit?

A: The Smoothstack lawsuit is currently in the early stages of litigation. Proceedings are underway, and the case is being closely monitored to determine the legality of the company's practices. As of now, no final verdict has been reached, and it remains to be seen how the court will rule on the matter.


The lawsuit against Smoothstack is significant. It might have significant effects on both this business and the IT training sector as a whole. It's raising difficult concerns regarding the application of TRAPs and other labor laws.

Those who aspire to begin IT jobs should ultimately be treated fairly and with decent possibilities. They shouldn't be forced into unfavorable agreements or kept in unjust arrangements.

This is a case worth keeping an eye on as it develops. It serves as a warning to use caution when accepting training payback terms. It also emphasizes how important it is for these programs to have improved worker protections.

With any luck, this thorough analysis has helped you understand Smoothstack's current state and its significance. Just keep your interests in mind if you're thinking about enrolling in a tech training program.

Examine the fine print. Recognize your rights. Furthermore, don't allow somebody to use your ambition to launch a profession.

You can have a prosperous future in IT if you have the correct opportunity and fair playing field.

Additional Information

Update on the Phoenix Capital Group Lawsuit: Distinguishing Real from Fiction

Another case that is pertinent to the current debates about labor abuses is the Phoenix Capital Group litigation. Even though the Smoothstack lawsuit is the main topic of this essay, it's important to recognize the similarities between these situations. Bringing attention to the existence of such cases can help illuminate the larger picture of legal conflicts in the business sector. Readers can have a more thorough awareness of the labor practices concerns faced by companies and employees by keeping up to date on a variety of legal issues. This emphasizes how critical it is to address and resolve these problems in order to guarantee equitable treatment and safeguard workers' rights across all industries.

Kennedy Financing Case: The Complete Narrative

A significant legal case that has garnered notice in the business community is the Kennedy Funding litigation. Even though it might not directly relate to the Smoothstack litigation, it clarifies the larger picture of legal issues and conflicts across a range of sectors. The case emphasizes how important it is to follow morally and fairly in business dealings in order to stay out of trouble with the law. Readers are invited to investigate comparable legal issues and have a more thorough knowledge of the changing legal landscape by citing the Kennedy Funding lawsuit. This can assist people in staying up to date on crucial topics pertaining to labor laws and employer obligations.

Are You Aware of the White Oak Global Advisors Lawsuit?

Another example of a case involving corporate practices is the one involving White Oak Global Advisors. Even though it has nothing to do with the Smoothstack lawsuit, it provides insightful information about comparable problems in the banking industry. Learning about this case will help you comprehend the wider effects of legal problems in other sectors of the economy. It's critical to keep up with these lawsuits since they can highlight potential hazards and guarantee that companies put ethical business practices first. You can obtain a more thorough understanding of the intricacies involved in labor conflicts and the necessity of more robust worker rights by looking into related court decisions.

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