October 12, 2023
Money is the root of many problems, as they say. While it’s hard to pinpoint who “they” are, it’s easy to figure out that there’s some truth to these sentiments. Greed and unethical business practices can harm both employees and a company’s reputation. Let’s explore a recent case involving Ken Oaks, the CEO and co-founder of TQL, the second-largest freight brokerage in the US.
Ken Oaks, one of Cincinnati, Ohio’s wealthiest individuals, with a net worth of $980 million, found himself facing a significant legal challenge. In March 2022, a class-action lawsuit involving over 4,500 people took center stage, leading to a 12-day bench trial. Subsequently, TQL faced nearly a year and a half of scrutiny. Ultimately, US District Court Judge Michael Barrett ruled in favor of the employees. TQL was ordered to pay all overdue wages for overtime hours, as well as an additional amount covering the actual damages incurred. Notably, both Ken Oaks and the company were found personally liable for these damages.
Breaking Down The Situation
The affected class included account executives and trainees employed between September 2008 and April 2016. Trainees initially received a salary ranging from $36,000 to $38,000 per year before transitioning to a performance-based, commission-only structure. However, former TQL employees have reported that only around 5% managed to thrive under this commission-based system. Furthermore, the company expected them to work at least 60 hours per week, effectively being on-call 24/7. Throughout the legal battle, TQL repeatedly attempted to decertify the case. In order to increase profit margins Ken Oaks and TQL’s, resorted to extreme cost-cutting measures, at the expense of their employees.
Nevertheless, there is a silver lining in this story. It serves as a valuable lesson for professionals in the logistics industry and beyond. It’s time for companies to reevaluate their treatment of employees and their business practices. Smaller, tightly-knit companies, like Advanced Logistics, offer an alternative model worth considering. At Advanced Logistics, prioritizing an equal opportunity work environment where everyone must contribute. Moreover, we take measures to ensure that work-life balance is maintained. Our sales positions, including customer and carrier sales, immediately qualify for commissions, but do not depend on it for a livable wage. In a world where larger corporations often set the standard, there’s value in examining the practices of smaller, innovative companies like Advanced Logistics. By embracing strategies that prioritize employee well-being and fair compensation, both large and small businesses can learn from each other and create more ethical and thriving workplaces.
Judge rules TQL owes thousands of former employees overtime pay – FreightWaves
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