According to experts familiar with the company, it will be H&R Block's tax professionals that drive the troubled tax preparation firm to the depths of insolvency.
Not that they needed any help.
On January 25, 2010, a California attorney filed suit against H&R Block, challenging the company-wide policy and practice of requiring their tax professionals to complete 24 hours of unpaid, mandatory training after the completion of a tax season in order to be eligible to prepare tax returns for H&R Block clients during the next tax season.
"This is huge," said a former H&R Block district manager, who would rather eat rocks for a living than work for the company. "We're talking about back-pay for 100,000 employees. That's a lot of ill-gotten Refund Anticipation Loan dollars that they'll be paying out."
The lawsuit alleges that H&R Block's refusal to pay their tax professionals for these 24 hours of mandatory training between tax seasons violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The lawsuit was filed as a nationwide collective action, which means that other similarly situated H&R Block tax professionals may be eligible to join the lawsuit and seek their unpaid wages.
"I don't care how incompetent the company's Legal department is," continued the former employee. "How the f--k didn't they realize that they can't force workers to work without paying them for it?"
The lawsuit alleges that a vast majority of H&R Block tax professionals prepare tax returns for clients during consecutive tax seasons and are believed to be victims of H&R Block's pay policy and practice challenged in the lawsuit.
And we're talking about a bunch of money.
"Oh, hell yes," said one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. "They're going to get unpaid wages for the 24 hours of mandatory training, plus an equal amount for liquidated damages, plus pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, attorneys' fees and litigation costs. For three years! That'll be about $250,000,000.00 for them."
The lawyers will do pretty well for themselves, as well.
"The firm will earn about $83 million in attorney fees and costs," concluded the attorney, while shopping for a 45' yacht on eBay. "Each tax professional will take away about $2,500. Of course, they'll be job-less, but, hey: $2,500!!"