Britt v. Florida Career College
On September 13, 2021, the District Court granted a motion by FCC to compel the parties to arbitration—even though FCC had notified students, including members of the Plaintiff class, that it would not enforce its arbitration agreement. In its order, the Court did not make any decision as to the merits of the Plaintiffs’ case, leaving open the possibility that Plaintiffs may still prevail in their claims against the school. Plaintiffs have filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court’s arbitration decision, as well as a motion to seek an immediate appeal of that decision before moving forward with the arbitration process. Those motions are now pending before the Court.
Who Is Involved In This Case?
Mr. Britt and Ms. Laurance brought this lawsuit in April 2020, on behalf of themselves and a class of current and former students against Florida Career College (FCC). FCC is a for-profit college chain that operates multiple campuses in Florida and Texas.
What Is This Case About?
The Florida Career College business model is simple. It uses high-pressure tactics and false statements to induce students to enroll in career-training programs. These students are forced to borrow thousands of dollars in federal student loans to pay FCC’s inflated tuition. FCC profits off this tuition money. Instead of investing in students’ education, it lines its own pockets and invests primarily in recruitment and advertising in order to scam more people. FCC targets students based on race, focusing its predatory marketing and deceptive recruitment practices on Black students, exacerbating the racial wealth gap.
FCC targets Black students for its high-priced, low-value product in many ways, including:
- Using Black models in many of its advertisements;
- Targeting students on Facebook and Instagram, where advertisers can target based on interest in “African Americans” and/or “African-American Culture”;
- Advertising on radio stations with predominantly Black audiences;
- Advertising on certain public buses, bus benches, and bus stops; and
- Conducting outreach at local high schools with a high percentage of Black students.
Because of these tactics, as of Fall 2018, every FCC campus had a larger percentage of Black students than the population of the city where it is located. For example, FCC in Hialeah has 55% Black student enrollment, even though the city’s Black population is just 2.5%. FCC in Margate has 70% Black student enrollment; Margate itself has a 28.6% Black population.
Where and When Was This Case Filed?
The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida on Monday, April 20, 2020.
“Florida Career College was a scam and a total waste of time and money. Their ads made me think that the HVAC program would give me a good career, but like everything else they told me, it was a lie. They didn’t teach even basics, and they didn’t care. Almost all of my classmates were minorities and many barely even had high school level reading skills. Their business is all about taking advantage of people who are just trying to better their lives. It’s not right and they shouldn’t be able to get away with it."
- Kareem Britt, lead plaintiff
Why This Case?
FCC peddles a predatory product to Black students, and does not provide the career training it promises. It leaves students in mountains of debt with no ability to pay it back. Only one of seventeen FCC programs led to gainful employment under the federal measure. The median annual earnings of students who were able to graduate and find employment in those seventeen programs were between $8,983 and $32,872.
FCC management trained recruiters to tell students that programs are full, even when they are not, in order to push students into programs that start earlier so FCC gets their student loan money sooner. Recruiters tout FCC’s ability to provide students with stable, lucrative careers, when in fact, all it provides is debt. Recruiters unscrupulously create an inaccurate image of the school regarding the students’ experiences and how the school improves students’ lives.
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Defendants’ Reply in Support of Their Joint Motion to Compel Arbitration or in the Alternative to Dismiss
Defendants’ filed a reply in support of their motion to compel arbitration, or in the alternative, motion to dismiss.
Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Compel Arbitration, or, in the alternative, Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiffs’ filed their response opposing Defendants’ Motion to Compel Arbitration, or, in the alternative, Motion to Dismiss.
New York Times
Left in the Lurch by Private Loans From For-Profit Colleges | New York Times
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