Smoothstack Lawsuit: What’s Going On?

Have you heard about Smoothstack? It’s a tech training company that’s making headlines, but not for the reasons you might think. They’re facing a big lawsuit that’s shaking up the tech world.

This case isn’t just about one company – it’s raising important questions about how tech training works and whether workers are being treated fairly.

If you’re interested in tech, or just care about worker rights, this is a story you need to know about.

Smoothstack Lawsuit: What’s Going On?

Smoothstack Lawsuit

Let’s dive into what’s happening with Smoothstack, why it matters, and what it could mean for the future of tech training.

What is Smoothstack?

Smoothstack is a company that does two main things:

  1. They teach people tech skills.
  2. They help those people find jobs with big tech companies.

Sounds good, right? Well, not everyone thinks so. Let’s break it down.

How Smoothstack Works?

Here’s how Smoothstack usually does things:

  1. Find people: They look for folks who want to work in tech but don’t have much experience.
  2. Train them: Smoothstack teaches these people computer skills.
  3. Get them jobs: After training, Smoothstack helps place these people in jobs at big tech companies.

But there’s more to the story. When people join Smoothstack, they have to sign a special agreement. This agreement is causing a lot of problems.

What’s a TRAP?

The agreement Smoothstack uses is called a TRAP. This stands for Training Repayment Agreement Provision. Here’s what it means:

  • If you leave Smoothstack before a certain time, you have to pay them back for your training.
  • The amount can be high – over $20,000!

TRAPs aren’t just used by Smoothstack. About 1 in 10 workers in America have signed something like this. But many people think TRAPs aren’t fair.

Smoothstack’s TRAP: The Details

Let’s look closer at Smoothstack’s TRAP:

What You Have to Do What Happens If You Don’t
Work 4000 hours for Smoothstack clients Pay $23,875 if you quit or get fired before 4000 hours

That’s a lot of hours – about two years of full-time work. And if you leave early, you owe a lot of money.

The Big Problem: The Lawsuit

In April 2023, someone who used to work for Smoothstack decided to sue the company. His name is Justin O’Brien. He says Smoothstack is breaking laws and treating workers unfairly.

What does the Lawsuit say?

O’Brien’s lawsuit makes some big claims:

  1. Too many work hours: Trainees have to work up to 80+ hours a week.
  2. No pay at first: For the first 3 weeks, Smoothstack doesn’t pay trainees at all.
  3. Low pay later: After that, they only get minimum wage and no extra pay for overtime.
  4. Pressure to stay: Workers feel forced to stay with Smoothstack because of the TRAP.

Breaking the Law?

The lawsuit says Smoothstack is breaking several laws:

  • Not paying overtime when they should.
  • Paying less than minimum wage.
  • Charging a big penalty if workers leave early.
  • Making workers feel trapped in their jobs.

Why This Matters?

This case is a big deal for a few reasons:

  1. It affects many workers.
  2. It could change how tech training companies work.
  3. It raises questions about what’s fair in job training.

What’s Happening with the Lawsuit?

The case is still pretty new. Here’s what’s happened so far:

  • May 2023: O’Brien dropped some of his claims after Smoothstack said he didn’t have to pay the penalty.
  • May-June 2023: Smoothstack asked the court to throw out the whole lawsuit.
  • August 2023: The court planned to hear arguments about whether to keep the case going.

What Might Happen Next?

There are a few ways this could go:

  1. The judge might throw out the case.
  2. The case might move forward and become a bigger lawsuit with more people involved.
  3. Smoothstack might decide to settle to avoid a long court battle.

No matter what happens, this case is making people look closely at how Smoothstack does business.

Why Should You Care?

Even if you don’t work in tech, this case matters. Here’s why:

  1. It’s about worker rights
  2. It could affect how companies train new workers
  3. It might change laws about job training agreements

What If You’re Thinking About Tech Training?

If you’re looking at programs like Smoothstack’s, here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Be careful: Read any agreement very carefully before you sign.
  • Ask questions: Make sure you understand what you’re agreeing to.
  • Don’t feel rushed: Take your time to think about it.
  • Know your rights: Learn about worker rights in your area.

The Big Picture: Tech Jobs and Training

This case isn’t just about Smoothstack. It’s part of a bigger conversation about tech jobs and training. Here are some key points:

  1. High demand: There’s a big need for tech workers.
  2. Skills gap: Many people don’t have the right skills for these jobs.
  3. Training programs: Companies like Smoothstack try to fill this gap.
  4. Fairness concerns: Some worry these programs take advantage of workers.

Other Ways to Get Tech Training

Smoothstack isn’t the only way to learn tech skills. Here are some other options:

  • College degrees: Longer, but often more in-depth
  • Coding bootcamps: Short, intense training programs
  • Online courses: Learn at your own pace
  • Apprenticeships: Learn on the job

Each has its pros and cons. The best choice depends on your situation.

What Workers Say?

Some people who’ve been through Smoothstack’s program have spoken up. Here’s what they’re saying:

  • Positive: Some say it helped them start a tech career.
  • Negative: Others felt trapped by the agreement.
  • Mixed: Many have both good and bad things to say.

It’s important to hear these different views to get the full picture.

The Legal Side: What’s Fair?

The Smoothstack case raises some big legal questions:

  1. Are TRAPs legal?: Some say no, others say it depends.
  2. Worker rights: What protections should trainees have?
  3. Company interests: How can companies protect their investment in training?

These are tough questions without easy answers.

What do Other Tech Companies think?

The tech industry is watching this case closely. Here’s why:

  1. It could affect how they train workers.
  2. It might change how they write job contracts.
  3. It could lead to new laws about tech training.

Many companies are waiting to see what happens before they make changes.

Expert Opinions

People who study labor laws and tech training have a lot to say about this case:

  • Some think TRAPs should be banned completely.
  • Others say they’re okay if they’re fair and clearly explained.
  • Many agree that there needs to be more oversight of tech training programs.

Looking to the Future

This case could change a lot about tech training. Here are some possible outcomes:

  1. New laws: We might see new rules about training agreements.
  2. Changes in training: Companies might change how they run training programs.
  3. More options: We could see new ways to learn tech skills.

Advice for Future Tech Workers

If you’re thinking about a tech career, here’s what to keep in mind:

  1. Research: Look into different training options.
  2. Read carefully: Understand any agreement before you sign.
  3. Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to speak up if something seems unfair.
  4. Know your worth: Remember, your skills have value.

The Bigger Picture: Tech Industry Issues

The Smoothstack case is part of bigger talks about work in the tech world:

  1. Who’s an employee?: There’s debate about who counts as a full employee.
  2. Fair pay: Many are asking if tech workers at all levels are paid fairly.
  3. Work conditions: People are looking at how tech companies treat workers.

These issues affect everyone in tech, from beginners to experts.

What Might Change?

This case could lead to big changes:

  1. New laws: We might see new rules about tech training.
  2. Different contracts: Companies might change how they write job agreements.
  3. More oversight: There could be more checking to make sure training programs are fair.

Why Does This Matter to Everyone?

Even if you don’t work in tech, this case is important:

  1. It’s about how companies treat workers.
  2. It could affect how people get job training in many fields.
  3. It shows why it’s important to understand your rights at work.


Here are some common questions about the Smoothstack case:

  • Q: What exactly is Smoothstack?

A: Smoothstack is a company that trains people in tech skills and then helps them get jobs with big tech companies.

  • Q: What’s a TRAP?

A: TRAP stands for Training Repayment Agreement Provision. It’s an agreement where you promise to pay back training costs if you leave a job early.

  • Q: Why is Smoothstack being sued?

A: A former worker says Smoothstack’s TRAP is unfair and that the company isn’t following labor laws.

  • Q: How common are TRAPs?

A: About 1 in 10 American workers have signed some kind of TRAP.

  • Q: What might happen because of this lawsuit?

A: It could change how tech training programs work, lead to new laws, or change how companies use TRAPs.

  • Q: Is Smoothstack the only company that uses TRAPs?

A: No, many companies use TRAPs, but Smoothstack’s case is getting a lot of attention.

  • Q: What should I do if I’m considering a program like Smoothstack’s?

A: Read all agreements carefully, ask lots of questions, and make sure you understand what you’re agreeing to.

  • Q: How long will this lawsuit take?

A: Legal cases can take a long time. It could be months or even years before there’s a final decision.

  • Q: Will this affect other tech companies?

A: Yes, many tech companies are watching this case closely. It could change how they do training.

  • Q: What if I’m already in a program with a TRAP?

A: Know your rights, keep good records, and consider talking to a lawyer if you have concerns.

Remember, this case is still going on. Things might change as we learn more. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the news for updates. This case shows why it’s so important to understand your rights at work and to be careful about what you agree to when you start a new job or training program.


The Smoothstack lawsuit is a big deal. It’s making people think hard about how tech training should work.

Here are the key points to remember:

  1. Smoothstack offers tech training but with a catch – a strict agreement.
  2. A former worker is suing, saying the agreement isn’t fair.
  3. This case could change how tech companies train new workers.
  4. It’s part of bigger talks about worker rights in tech.

No matter how the case turns out, it’s clear that we need to think carefully about how we prepare people for tech jobs.

We want to give people good chances to learn, but we also need to make sure they’re treated fairly.

As we wait to see what happens with Smoothstack, it’s a good time for all of us to think about what’s fair in the world of work.

You may also like...