According to a federal class action lawsuit filed against Texas Chiropractic College the school forced students to clean toilets, do laundry and paperwork for 20 hours a week and recruit patients to graduate. The U.S. Department of Labor found the college had violated federal wage law by paying students less than minimum wage for their work at the clinic, after a complaint was filed with the agency in autumn 2016. “Despite the DOL’s investigation, nothing substantially changed at the clinic,” the class action states.
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The plaintiff Travis William Prothro sued the Texas Chiropractic College on Wednesday.
According to Prothro, in January 2016, the school got rid of the clinic’s office staff and replaced them with students, who now work the front desk, schedule appointments, process payments, audit bills for insurance claims, do janitorial work and laundry “as part of their ‘required clinical duties.’”
Prothro claims students must work without pay up to 30 hours a week at the clinic and if they don’t the administration will say they failed to do their assignments or their clinical hours, which can make them ineligible to graduate.
Prothro claims that the clinic and the school are struggling financially.
Indeed, according to enrollment reports, Texas Chiropractic College has seen steadily declining enrollment since a peak in 1995. Around 2002 their enrollment had increased substantially but this was due to a large number of students who transferred there from Life University's College of Chiropractic which had run into accreditation troubles. In subsequent lawsuits Life claimed that Texas and other schools engaged in a scheme to strip the school of its accreditation in order to increase enrollment at competing chiropractic schools like Texas.
Publicly available financial records through 2013 show that TCC's endowment had decreased by almost half and revenue was also down more than a million dollars.
Enrollment in chiropractic colleges had been declining for several years across the board but schools focusing on training chiropractors to be primary care physicians as opposed to practicing traditional chiropractic seem to be the hardest hit. According to 990 reports TCC claims to train "primary care physicians" even though chiropractors cannot actually practice primary care or refer to themselves as such in most states.
The complaint against TCC stated: “The students were being told that they would need to recruit 25 new, paying patients each as part of the new curriculum credit requirements to be completed by end of their clinical internship courses in order to graduate. In effect, the students were being told that they would need to recruit their own patients on which to have their training.”
The chiropractic profession in Texas has been locked in a battle with the Texas Medical Association due to the Texas Chiropractic Association and the Texas Board of Chiropractic's efforts to expand the scope of practice of chiropractic into medicine. The TCA and other national chiropractic organizations that are seeking to push the profession into the practice of medicine claim that if they are not allowed to practice a broader scope the profession will suffer even more serious economic repercussions than it already is.