ANNAPOLIS, Md. (CN) – A Maryland cosmetology school purportedly affiliated with Paul Mitchell led prospective students to believe they would earn “as much as doctors and lawyers,” but instead forced them to clean toilets and hawk the school’s products, according to a class action in Anne Arundel County Court.
Several students claim the Fila Academy and its owner, Larry Fila Jr., made false promises to lure them into signing up for one of the school’s programs, including barbering, nail technology and skin care therapy.
The class says Fila falsely claims to be associated with Paul Mitchell, assuring students that they need not worry about the program’s $16,300 tuition, and that the school is “reputable in the industry.”
Students say these promises are made to induce them to sign up for federal loans so the school gets the hefty tuition.
But the academy “is more interested in securing federal funds, grants and loans” than training its students to become licensed professionals, the lawsuit states. Students are allegedly “provided with answers to exam questions before each exam, leaving no integrity to the educational process of Fila.”
Once signed up, students are put into sales rep positions and given quotas, the class claims, and students who fail to meet those quotas are axed from the program.
“Upon enrolling in the program, the Plaintiffs find themselves performing demeaning tasks such as cleaning the toilets,” the students say.
They say Larry Fila, the sole shareholder and director of the academy, “is notorious amongst students for being an unprofessional bully who is incapable of respecting the students.”
Fila students allegedly come from all walks of life, from a single mother looking for a promised “successful life” to a young woman who attempted suicide after “she was dismissed because of her immaturity.”
The ousted student says she was shown the door shortly after the academy received the federal money granted to her. She claims she was ultimately charged 60 percent of the tuition without receiving her promised education.
The students demand $15 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages for five counts of fraud, unfair trade practices, breach of contract and infliction of emotional distress.
They are represented by Allan Steinhorn of Clark Steinhorn.