MISSOULA, Mont. (CN) – A beauty college took wads of federal dollars for incompetent instruction that included making students trim a teacher’s pubic hair and use the trimmers on customers, then expelled students for complaining and kept their money, 17 women say in court.
Lead plaintiff Breanne Walden and 16 others sued Dahl’s College of Beauty and its owners/members Douglas and Barbara Daughenbaugh and Philip Belangie, in Federal Court. Fifteen plaintiffs were students; two say they were employees – a director and financial aid director – until they were fired.
The plaintiffs claim the defendants “established Dahl’s as a subterfuge to accept tuition and fees and federal student financial aid from students while not providing an education, resulting in substantial profits and ill-gotten gains to defendants.”
They say the Great Falls-based school failed to address harassment complaints and unjustly enriched itself with tuition money of about $9,950 a head.
According to the 10-page complaint: “During the course of their education, the student plaintiffs were subjected to sexual harassment by their instructor who later became the school director. Among the offensive and unwelcome conduct included, inter alia, the instructor publicly exposing her genitals, exposing her buttocks and requesting that students examine a boil to see if it could be extracted, requiring students to wax her pubic hair, using a student’s trimmers and wax stick to trim and wax her pubic hair that were, upon information and belief, then used on customer haircuts. None of this conduct was a legitimate part of the curriculum or services offered by Dahl’s. Moreover, the instructor would routinely use vulgar and profane language and make sexual remarks and innuendo, while offensively belittling the student plaintiffs.”
The students say the teachers were laggards, and that Dahl’s “expelled nearly all of the students, [and] retained their tuition”.
The complaint states: “(O)n many occasions, the instructors would be sleeping, surfing the Internet, conducting personal business, failing to properly teach the curriculum and improperly delegating their teaching and supervision duties to unqualified, unlicensed students.”
They claim Dahl’s did not address the harassment or establish complaint procedures, expelled students for reporting the school to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, and fired employees for participating in investigations by the agency.
“Dahl’s and the individual defendants systematically established a pattern and practice whereby they enrolled students, including the student plaintiffs, in a purported educational program without qualified instructors, without a quality curriculum,” the complaint states.
“Defendants enrolled students, including the student plaintiffs, to a point where they could retain students’ financial aid and tuition payments without having to make a refund, and then defendants abruptly expelled the students without cause or valid reason while retaining the students’ funds that it no longer needed for educational purposes.
“Upon information and belief, after initially enrolling at least a dozen or so students at the commencement of the program, Dahl’s has expelled nearly all of the students, retained their tuition, and now enrolls only a few students,” the complaint states.
The plaintiffs seek punitive damages for sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, unfair trade, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
They are represented by Gregory Pinski with Conner & Pinski of Great Falls.