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ITT Educational Services is ceasing operations Friday, leaving more than 8,000 employees out of work. The for-profit education firm is shuttering more than 130 campuses nationwide after the Department of Education cut off access to federal financial aid for new students.
For-profit colleges have been floundering as regulators scrutinize their recruiting tactics, costs and job placement rates.
Attorney Brandon Wise represents a former ITT worker in a lawsuit against the company. Wise said the firm should’ve given employees a 60-day layoff notice through the federal WARN Act, which deals with plant closings and mass layoffs.
“ITT came in Sept. 6th and just sent out a mass email and told pretty much all their employees they were effectively terminated that day,” he said.
Wise’s client, an academic dean, had just relocated for ITT. They’re seeking class-action status and want 60 days back pay and benefits.
The WARN Act exempts employers from the 60-day notice under certain circumstances.
The laid-off ITT workers’ reemployment prospects will vary by city. Many likely held administrative jobs, like accounting or tech support, according to Kevin Kinser, an expert on the for-profit education sector at Pennsylvania State University.
As for the instructors, Kinser said, “It certainly wouldn’t be easy for them to move into another for-profit institution, because all of them are under strain.”
ITT offered both online and in-person classes. Kinser said some instructors might have a leg up getting work at nonprofit colleges that seek to boost their online offerings.
But Sam Dunietz, a policy analyst at the American Association of University Professors, noted the timing of the layoffs does not work to their advantage.
“Classes have already started this semester across the country,” he said. “It’s unlikely that they’re going to be able to find another teaching position, at least until next semester.”