FORT LAUDERDALE (CN) - Sanford-Brown, a profit-seeking chain college, fired a campus president for his truthful reports that some of its campuses "could not have achieved the revenues they did" without breaking the law, the man claims in court.
Michael R. LaBelle, former president of the Fort Lauderdale campus, sued Career Education Corp. and Sanford-Brown Ltd., in Federal Court.
Career Education Corp. (CEC) is "a publicly owned and traded corporation, trading under the symbol CECO on the NASDAQ, and the parent corporation and operator of a business enterprise consisting of a network of private trade schools and colleges across the nation offering post-secondary education to more than 75,000 students at more than 90 campuses in the United States and Europe, including at SBI-FTL, [Sanford Brown Institute, Fort Lauderdale] one of 38 Sanford-Brown campuses nationwide, the focus of which is certificate and undergraduate programs in allied health," the complaint states.
"Limited, at all material times, was and is a wholly owned subsidiary of CEC and, together with CEC, operated SBI-FTL."
LaBelle says in the complaint: "This is a diversity action brought by plaintiff, Michael R. LaBelle, the former Campus President of the Fort Lauderdale campus of Sanford-Brown Institute whom the defendants, One, passed over for promotion to Regional Vice President of Operations, a position he was performing on an interim basis, after he reported to the Vice President of Operations and upper management that some of the other campuses could not have achieved the revenues they did related to student enrollment without violating the applicable laws, rules and regulations that he refused to violate; Two, terminated after he continued to report the non-compliance and refused to participate in the violations claiming an alleged conflict of
interest based on his friendship with an employee he had disclosed previously and was assured did not violate any policy, and, Three, then denied severance compensation typically provided to terminated employees pursuant to a written severance plan. Plaintiff sues pursuant to Florida's Private Sector Whistle Blower Act, §§ 448.101, et seq., FLA. STAT. (2012), for all available relief, including compensation for lost wages, benefits and other remuneration, compensatory damages, attorneys' fees and costs."
LaBelle worked for the defendants for 7 years. He was fired on Sept. 7, 2012.
He is represented by Karen Coolman Amlong of Fort Lauderdale.
This is one of dozens, or hundreds, of lawsuits filed against profit-seeking chain colleges accused of skirting laws and regulations to get their hands on students' government loans.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.