Salvation Army Faces Class Action Over ARC Participants’ Forced Labor
A proposed class action lawsuit argues that the Salvation Army forced vulnerable participants of the Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) program. The Salvation Army allegedly coerced the participants to work at its thrift stores by threatening them with harm, including incarceration and reputational and financial damages.
Coercion as “Work Therapy”
The Illinois case alleges that the Salvation Army has long exploited the criminal justice system to secure the majority of its labor force. The SA accomplishes this through recruiting referrals from courts and probation programs, so using the “coercive power of the state” to compel workers, who are usually economically vulnerable, to do work for Salvation Army National Corporation as well as Salvation Army Central Territorial.
According to the Salvation Army Thrift Store ARC Class Action Lawsuit, over the last decade, courts and other branches of the criminal justice system have ordered or diverted hundreds or thousands of people, primarily those with substance abuse disorders, to the Salvation Army’s ARC program as a condition of parole or probation and/or as an alternative to incarceration. In addition, according to the suit, every ARC demands participants to work in the Salvation Army’s commercial operations.
The Salvation Army Thrift Store ARC Class Action Lawsuit alleges that the Salvation Army engages in a scheme, plan, or pattern with the intent of convincing its ARC workforce that they will experience serious harm, such as homelessness, financial instability, inability to obtain paid work, or reincarceration, if they refuse to perform work for the defendants.
Although the SA promotes the ARC program as a no-cost means of addressing the symptoms and causes of alcohol and drug dependency and operates it under the guise of work therapy, the filing states that the defendant requires everybody enrolled in the program to work long hours in physically demanding jobs that benefit the defendants’ commercial interests. The lawsuit alleges that ARC participants earn a gratuity of between $1 and $25 per whole week of work, amounting to pennies per hour for their work.
The plaintiffs contend that the Salvation Army does not provide its ARC employees the same rights as its other employees. The workforce at the ARC that has been referred by the justice system does not have a choice whether or not to work. They must report to and engage in the ARC program or face reincarceration for violating their parole or probation terms.
Additionally, the claim asserts that the Salvation Army’s apparent activity is not limited to ARC participants since the SA solicits walk-ins who are often economically vulnerable like those referred through probation or diversion.
The case alleges that defendant SA Central Territory takes use of these vulnerabilities to force walk-in participants into performing physically demanding labor alongside the paid employees performing the same work.
According to the lawsuit, forced labor is a “core tenant” of the Salvation Army’s ARC program, and participation in ARC is impossible without working in the SA’s commercial operations.
Moreover, SA Central Territory, one of four territories located throughout the country, ensures that the ARC workforce continues to supply labor by threatening them with serious harm if they do not work.
Darrell Taylor et al. v. The Salvation Army National Corporation et al.
Darrell Taylor, Kevin Lewis, Darrell Burkhart, and Leevertis Page are the lead plaintiffs. They all worked for the ARC in the SA Central Territory. The plaintiffs allege that they were forced to work a minimum of 8 hours per day and a minimum of 40 hours a week for food, shelter, and gratuity.
The case continues by alleging that the Salvation Army demands its ARC workers to reside on-site and severely restricts their interaction with anyone outside the SA during the first month to six weeks after their involvement. Additionally, the suit alleges that the Salvation Army restricts ARC participants’ ability to work from outside paid jobs and demands many to sign over their meal and other governmental assistance benefits and/or vouchers.
By paying participants pennies an hour and monopolizing their time, The Salvation Army guarantees that the participants must work for months before saving enough money from gratuities to meet their most basic needs even for a few days outside of The Salvation Army’s ARC program, the complaint states.
The Salvation Army is accused of violating the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.
Editor’s Note on Salvation Army Thrift Store ARC Class Action Lawsuit:
This article is written to inform you of the lawsuit against Salvation Army for allegedly forcing vulnerable ARC participants into labor. We also suggest you read the Nissan Workers payment.
Case Name & No.: Darrell Taylor, et al. v. The Salvation Army National Corporation, et al., Case No. 1:21-cv-06105
Jurisdiction: US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Allegations: Salvation Army has allegedly forced vulnerable Adult Rehabilitation Center participants to work at its thrift stores under threat of harm.
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