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UPDATE: Two former employees sue H&R Block

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | 5:09 p.m. CST; updated 9:31 a.m. CST, Thursday, January 28, 2010

COLUMBIA — Two Columbia tax preparers have sued their former employer, H&R Block, for allegedly requiring them to attend 24 hours of mandatory training each year without pay.

The training is a companywide policy for all H&R Block's "Tax Professionals," according to the lawsuit, and must be completed for these employees to prepare taxes in the next tax season. The class-action lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, alleges the requirement — because employees aren't paid for it — is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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The two Columbia tax preparers are Barbara Petroski and Cathy Camden. Petroski worked at H&R Block from tax season 2004-2009 and Camden from tax season 2007-2009, said Bradford Lear, one of the attorneys representing the two women.

The company policy to not pay for the required training violates the law, Lear said.

If H&R Block is found to have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, the wages would be effectively doubled and probably amount to $500 to $1,000 per employee, Lear said.

Petroski and Camden are the only two plaintiffs in the case. But the class-action lawsuit allows those who have worked for H&R Block within the last three years — and who were not paid for the time they spent in what H&R Block refers to as “rehire training” — to join the lawsuit, provided they indicate their consent.

Lear said they plan to ask the court to issue a notice to the H&R Block tax professionals who were not paid for the mandatory training that they may join the suit.


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