Murphy Anderson Represents Virginia Tech Students Fighting Lawsuits after Reporting Wage Theft

October 21, 2022

On Friday, October 21, the legal team representing three Virginia Tech students filed a motion to dismiss three lawsuits brought against the college students by their former employer.  The motion to dismiss was brought under Maryland’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute.

The students, who were all employees of a bookstore in Blacksburg, VA, filed administrative complaints with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI), alleging that their employer, BookHolders, LLC, had been paying them below the state minimum wage. In turn, upon receiving notice of the students’ complaints, the owner of BookHolders, which operates a chain of off-campus bookstores across multiple states, sued all three students in Maryland state court. The lawsuits alleged breach of contract and invoked the arbitration agreement each student was required to sign when they were first employed.

In their motion to dismiss BookHolders' suits, the students' legal team argues that the lawsuits were brought in bad faith to deter the students from engaging in protected First Amendment activity, and that reports to the state enforcement agency did not breach their arbitration agreements.

The legal team representing the students includes Murphy Anderson attorneys Mark Hanna and Adam Breihan, Karla Gilbride of Public Justice, and Joanna Wasik and Dennis Corkery of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

Read Public Justice’s press release; read the Washington Lawyers’ Committee’s press release.