DETROIT — A judge has cleared the way for possibly thousands of people to be paid for work performed while they were students at a Michigan school.
Federal Judge Judith Levy ruled last week that students who cleaned floors, re-stocked products and washed towels were performing tasks that weren't directly related to their education at Douglas J. Institute.
The judge said they can be considered employees under federal law.
The students claimed they could be sent home if they didn't perform tasks at Douglas J. hair styling clinics.
Levy said students had "little ability or incentive to say no."
Lawyers for Douglas J. argued that manual labor was part of the education, which cost nearly $18,000.
Douglas J. has schools in Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Royal Oak, Chicago and Knoxville, Tennessee.
Attorney John Philo said the next step will be class-action certification.