Former security guard sues after loss of job www.privateofficer.com
Kenneth Callender of Clarksville, Tenn., is seeking class-action status for the lawsuit. It accuses Coastal International Security — a Lorton, Va.-based company that provides guards to the departments of State, Homeland Security and Defense — of breach of contract for refusing to pay a promised $1,500 retention bonus.
Callender’s attorney, Rowdy Meeks of Kansas City, Mo., said the lawsuit would cover about 200 private guards at Fort Campbell if it is certified as class-action. In addition to the guards at the Army post that straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee state line, it may cover an undetermined number of guards from Fort Knox and posts in the company’s “Army Midwest” region in Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Michigan.
“We’re still trying to figure out how people that is,” Meeks said Tuesday.
A message left for a Coastal International Security spokesman was not immediately returned Tuesday. Callender sued Thursday in U.S. District Court in Paducah.
Coastal’s contract to provide security at Fort Campbell, Fort Knox and other posts ended in September, when the U.S. Army’s Installation Management Command switched the job to government employees.
Bill Costlow, public affairs director for the Installation Management Command in San Antonio, Texas, which oversees the security contracts, said private contractors needed to be phased out by law by 2011, which is why Coastal International Security’s contract was allowed to expire.
Normally, private contractors are barred from providing security at military posts, but Congress granted an exemption after Sept. 11. However, Congress mandated that the number used be decreased by 10 percent each year, Costlow said.
The jobs will be filled by federal government employees, Costlow said.
“We have our own standards and our own training,” Costlow said. “It will be the same from garrison to garrison.”
Coastal International Security, a subsidiary of New Mexico-based Akal Security, in June sent an e-mail to employees in the Army Midwest region promising a $1,500 retention bonus for guards who stayed on between the end of their contract and the switch to government employees.
“This should help offset some financial difficulties faced by employees whom ultimately will be laid off as a result of the contract ending,” wrote Larry T. Stacy, Coastal’s Army program manager.
Two months later, Stacy sent another e-mail informing employees that the retention bonus would not be paid. But he expressed hope that employees would continue until the company’s contract with the Army ended a month later.
“This action is being taken due to the government’s unwillingness to pay for the retention bonuses,” Stacy wrote.
Meeks said Callender, who was laid off Sept. 30 after seven years at Fort Campbell, is still unemployed and looking for work